As if the countless clones that followed in their wake weren't enough proof, Kid Dynamite's legacy is further cemented by Carry the Torch, a massive, 39-song tribute that covers every track (double-edged) the band laid to tape. Just like none of those clones can or could quite match the brilliance and sincerity of Kid Dynamite's rapid-fire, gritty melodic hardcore, none of the bands here quite stack up to the originals -- but it's not to say they didn't make a solid effort.
While Smartbomb's take on "Heart a Tact" is refreshingly raw and scrappy, the urgency is brought to a screeching halt by Ernie Parada's half-acoustic take on "Bench Warmer" -- though it picks up the full-band, full-speed ahead approach halfway through, this probably should have been sequenced much further into the disc than 3rd. First to Leave, placed at track 14, sound more natural with their vacation island take on "S.O.S."
Broadway Calls add a wonderfully snotty and bass-heavy character to "Bookworm," making for one of the album's best moments. But then, one of the burliest bands, oddly enough, takes on one of KD's poppiest numbers when All Teeth tackle "Never Met the Gooch." It's an awkward juxtaposition, but it kinda works. Where a happy medium is reached between traits like this is Make Do and Mend's gruff and fast application to "Ronald Miller Story."
No Secrets Between Sailors is credited as the band doing "Living Daylights," but it's clearly Sakes Alive!!, who also do "News at 11" later on. Chris Vandeviver's vocals are harsh and scratchy like rusted nails and they totally nail the former. Their latter, though, oddly enough, has a pretty rough recording that muffles the intensity a bit.
Comadre have one of the most experimental covers in "Death and Taxes," with a bumbling bassy intro and hip-hop vinyl scratch, and later on adding European screamo elements; it's pretty refreshing. Representative of their pretty goofy nature, 12 Cent throw some xylophone plinks and such into "Pacifier," without making things too ridiculous (and is that an homage to None More Black's "Oh, There's Legwork" I hear at the end?). Curiously, No Harm Done's "Three's a Party" features "guest vocals" from Dan Yemin; it's definitely got a weird 'alternate universe' vibe, like if Biff still had the almanac...with less disastrous results. Yeems, along with Dave Wagenschutz, provide some nice retrospective tidbits in the liner notes too.
Bands that miss the mark a bit include Endgame, with their posthumous "Copout"; them not doing so well is a little weird since that band basically mastered the melodic Turning Point / Lifetime thing on their last EP. Static Radio NJ actually sound less like KD on "Give 'em the Ripped One" than they do their early stuff. To the Lions transform "Rid of the Losers, Bring on the Cruisers" into a beastly, metallic hardcore gallop; eh. And Stay Warm seem a little sluggish with their rendition of "Showoff."
Towards the end, No Trigger's "K05-0564" is solid and though their transition to the breakdown is a little sloppy, Latin for Truth otherwise do "Table 19" well. The highly anticipated "Fuckuturn" from the Ergs! delivers and Soldiers is one of the few bands to actually match KD's speed on "Introduction to the Opposites." Kill Conrad mess around with an "El Scorcho" drumbeat opening before launching into an okay "Rufus Wants a Hug." The keyboard intro to the Wonder Years' "Cheap Shot, Youth Anthem" is a little cheesy but the song is otherwise pretty straightforward. The production tricks on This Time Next Year's nasally vocals for "3 O'clock" might cause a few listeners to end the album one song early.
Overall, Carry the Torch just manages to do so, though maybe at a lagging pace. At an hour long it's a bit exhausting of a listen and not every band hits the mark, but it's a thorough and direct love letter all the same.
Smartbomb - Heart a Tact
All Teeth - Never Met the Gooch
Comadres - Death and Taxes
No Trigger - K05-0564
Sakes Alive!! - News at 11
This Time Next Year - 3 O'clock
Black Numbers is handling the vinyl release for this album.