Various Artists
Old Tyme Lemonade
Hospital Productions
2004
C+



old Tyme Lemonade was compiled by Dominick Fernow of Hospital Productions between 2002 and 2003. Ostensibly, the participants he chose were meant to represent the best that Providence had to offer at the time. And while a few notables are missing he succeeds. Big names mix easily with more obscure bands and side-projects here, highlighting some of the first widely-available recordings by several of the best but least well known bands from town.

Let's get this over with: Lightning Bolt's track is good. It sounds like it was taken from a rehearsal tape, though. It's different than their fully formed songs, it's improvised and it might make you giggle to hear them talking into a delay pedal. It takes a while, but unleashes a killer groove midway in. As for the other well-known artists: Necronomitron contributes "Bloodclotguts" from their CD on Load, Mindflayer makes you dance, and Meerk Puffy (aka Mr./Mystery Brinkman) throws down harsh electronics and hip-hop beats, while Landed opens with "They Were Eating Caca" which is similar to the groovy, fuzzed out AmRep worship of their LP. It’s a wise placement choice; the track is weird and noisy, but it's still rock. Starting with the extreme screech and tape manipulation of Noise Nomads might have been a bit off-putting to the listener. Of the more obscure artists, White Mice, Throne of Blood and Knifestorm particularly shine, offering offer excellent bits of noise rock, grindcore and electronic buzz.

The biggest complaint is the sound quality. It varies wildly, but most of the time it sits solidly in the "lo-fi" range. The worst offenders are virtually unlistenable. It seems a cruel joke to put the track with the worst sound quality (Suffering Bastard), right after Football Rabbit's, which sounds quite clear. The cover of "Jumping Jack Flash" by Smashed Femur Dance Party had the potential to be amusing, but it's mastered very quietly, and it's hard to make out what's going on behind Dave's goofy vocals. On the other hand, mastering likely would have ruined Dropdead's contribution. "What Once Was Life" was recorded more than seven years ago in Finland and shows Dropdead stretching away from typical grind during its excellent midsection. Everything drops out except for the droning guitar, tense and reminiscent of early Dead C or Sonic Youth, until the track ends with a burst of screamed vocals and hastily pounded drums.

Fernow, Old Tyme Lemonade's compiler, is also involved with four of the artists here. His most well known project is Prurient, but the track he contributes under that name is a bit of a disappointment. It lacks the epic quality of his recent Shipwrecker's Diary as well as the harsh clatter of Troubled Sleep. Much better is the instrumental prog-metal band Football Rabbit, in which he plays guitar. "Polished Arrow" delivers tight, high energy metal with a guitar tone closer to Steve Albini than Tony Iommi.

Though a bit more variety wouldn't have hurt, and mastering the CD would have made listening a whole lot easier, Old Tyme Lemonade succeeds in presenting a picture of Providence, RI as a haven of the noisy and extreme. The few bands who don't fit that description seem like an afterthought and self-conscious attempt to diversify. Indeed, better choices could have been made if one wanted to show the best artists from Providence's quieter side—where are Alec K. Redfearn and Black Forest/Black Sea? Regardless, if you've any interest in the noisier side of the indie spectrum and the underground of one of the underground’s most fertile scenes, it's worth at least a couple of listens.



Reviewed by: Ian Johnson
Reviewed on: 2004-06-15
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