- David Birch: Guitar & vocals
- Brett Barnes: Bass
- Craig Nash: Drums
Squeal's first album is sinewy, athletic rock stripped down to fighting
weight, it's as pure as rock gets. Though a trio, Squeal is a big band
whether emotional and slow or racing along at full strength. Dave Birch
(guitar, vocals, and songwriting), Brett Barnes (bass), and Craig Nash
(drums) make music that satisfies in the long run.
But don't think that because this is only a rock trio that these songs are
simplicity amplified. Squeal's songs have agile variety as well as muscles.
'Long Pig' starts off medium-tempo, throws us into 'Runners', and in the
course of the album gives us melodies, crisp guitar work, throbbing bass,
and determined back-beating. Birch's strong voice is the perfect vehicle
for delivering these powerful songs.
Then 'Long Pig' slams into the loping 'Bury the Body', eases into a few
fine, albeit slower, numbers, then bursts into a rollicking bonus track for
the big finish. The bonus is an anthem of mountains and valleys, a dragon's
back and Olifant Valley song.
Some songs follow either the accepted rock method of slow-fast-slow-fast,
or the equally respectable soft-loud-soft-loud method. 'Runners' and 'Go
Well' are two such. Other numbers grab one's attention and thrash it
around, as do 'Killing the Light', 'Believer', 'Bury the Body', and 'Candy'.
'Bury the Body' is my favorite tune on the disc, though 'Candy' also sticks
to my mind. It was the single from the CD and also appears on the first
'5FM Showcase' compilation. But Squeal is one of my favorite South African
rock bands so any favorite songs have aggressive competition.
I don't pretend to always understand Birch's lyrics ("You might as well go
find a dog/ And ask it what the chickens said"?!). The ones I can't
penetrate do seem to be about something, though, and I see glimmers of
sense. Whether I understand them or not, Birch's lyrics contain profound
images and catchy lines -- which profundity does not at all interfere with
the forward push of the tune, driven along by guitars and drums.
This is pure rock, lean and powerful, Squeal-style.
Kurt Shoemaker, SA Rockdigest#99, March 2001