Kid Dynamite’s 1998 debut album contains the ingredients for an excellent punk record: energetic and harsh vocals, inspiring lyrics, overall fast, tight instruments, attitude and speed, raw sound with just the accurate amount of melody. And most importantly, done right. The highly influential Philadelphia based group comprised of Lifetime guitarist Dan Yemin lasted only a few years but their only two full length albums (2000’s ‘Shorter, Faster, Louder’ the other) and split with 88 Fingers Louie are some of the finest punk albums of recent times. After their break up members would go on to form Paint it Black and None More Black. The quartet’s self titled record, released on Jade Tree, is crammed with nineteen punk rock/melodic hardcore anthems hovering around the one and two minute mark (with three under 30 seconds) performed by a great and exciting band in their (unfortunately too short) prime.
The album relies on persistent intensity and consistency in the songs. With most being so short, they fly by and often run together, but there is usually something unique to be found in each one. Yemin, who just a year earlier played guitar on the classic ‘Jersey’s Best Dancers’, is at his best with his raw but catchy riffs ringing expected similarities to Lifetime, standing out on songs like Wrist Rocket
and The Ronald Miller Story
. But front man Jason Shevchuk’s vocals contrasted heavily with Ari Katz’ cleaner voice. But that’s enough with the comparisons as both bands sound distinctively different. Jason’s rough edged voice fits perfectly with the bands aggressive style of punk and while not the most accessible vocals in the genre are indeed some of the best. Steve Ferrel’s bass work is a vital part in the record, with tracks like Shiner
and Ph Decontrol
demonstrating this. Drummer and ex-early Lifetime member David Wagenschutz, while nothing out of the ordinary is well able to keep up with the bands fast sound.
Though many of the songs blend together, when listening to them that will be the last thing on the mind. All nineteen songs, delivered with tons of energy and passion, are how many of the best in the genre are: fast, hard and to the point. Getting into each one would be somewhat meaningless but there are a varied many throughout that really standout. Showoff
is one of the group’s best songs showcasing basically all of what the band is about in less than two minutes. Bookworm
is more mid tempo and poppy compared to the rest but works as well as any other. Shiner
is one of Shevchuk’s loudest and relentless vocal outings complimented by backing ‘woahh’s, something not uncommon for KD. Pacifier
, a melodic romp through a catchy guitar riff and biting vocals is another highlight. The songs that go by under thirty seconds (Sweet Shop Syndicate, Scarysmurf, 32 Frames Per Second
) are all tiny bits of hardcore delight that complete the album. Lyrically the album covers much ground and can fit the topics in the short time frames despite probably not being clearly audible during the song. The more hardcore News At Eleven
deals with media corruption while Bookworm
appears as an emblematic story of a girl. Other matters include loneliness and reflection (The Ronald Miller Story
) and pure rage (the finale fuckturn
). Many themes of youth run through the album also.
Kid Dynamite’s self titled, simply put, is a superb punk album made from some significant past and future alumni in the melodic hardcore scene. There’s not great variety and songs are not easily distinguished but that’s not the point. The point was to make one kick as
s punk record full of fast anthems and songs to sing along to with good lyrics, I assume because that’s what it is. Fans of Lifetime should enjoy this, as well any fan of punk or hardcore if you like Jason’s gravelly vocals. An essential and influential album within the genre that never seems to get tiresome.