ROGUE SOUNDS: Legendary Goodtimes VS. The Campfire on ‘Acoustic EP’
What makes The Legendary Goodtimes work is a total lack of hypenation. While other bands are exploring sub-genres and micro-niches, they are unapologetic about their one-word genre: rock. Even the band’s cover of funk masterpiece “Superstition,” by Stevie Wonder is a purely power-chord affair, with amps cranked and no fucks given about Mr. Wonder’s many percussive nuances on the keys.
In April, the band did what every loud-ass electric band discusses after a lot of beers and dropped a collection of acoustic recordings.
The obviously-titled Acoustic EP includes four songs not on the band’s 2012 self-titled album and is available as a pay-what-you-want download from Bandcamp.
For all the songs, the band dialed back its volume, replacing the drum kit with a hand-drum and the cranked amps with acoustic guitars. But it didn’t change much beyond that, still approaching the guitar riffs on the acoustic as they would an electric.
As a result, the overall impression is less one of a deliberately rearranged acoustic collection than it is a cleanly-recorded campfire or late-night jam session, or a series of demos.
The first song, “Come On Through,” starts with a percussive rock riff on the acoustic, that is quickly joined by the minimalist drumming. One keeps expecting another instrument or fuller sound to join in, but it never happens, even though the song lasts for 6:20, which is a bit long without much else joining the mix.
The EP’s third track, “Black Momma,” is the best song in the collection, with a spooky arpeggio and menacing vocals that evokes the black magic feel of a Louisiana swamp at night.
The EP closes with “Back at the Start,” a song whose hook is based around several stabs of power chords. It would kill electric. Acoustic, it feels a bit lacking, especially as the rhythm falls apart a little bit in a latin-surf-esque crescendo towards the song’s end.
The recording’s strongest elements are the gutsy vocal harmonies from guitarist and singer Matty J, whose down-south whiskey growl really sells the songs on its own. A bit more production would make them sing as well as J. But it makes sense considering the process described for recording its 2012 debut on its website: “While digital is forgiving, analog is not. You have to keep recording until you get the best take. No tricks in editing will save you, because analog reel to reel is 100 percent honest. You don’t get two hours to nail a solo. You have to nail it live, and that challenge appealed to us.”
The sound of nailing it live is definitely present on Acoustic EP, but acoustic and electric guitars are totally different instruments with different strengths played to in totally different ways. While Acoustic EP certainly is as it is labeled, the band didn’t do a whole lot to harness the unique powers of acoustic presentation, instead sticking to their clear and present mission: rock.