Lounge Act Jam – Diabolical – Album Review
Alright…so here’s where I’m at with Lounge Act Jam…
You see words like ‘experimental,’ ‘bedroom’ and ‘alternative’ at the official Soundcloud page – and that ain’t wrong…that’s a pretty accurate assessment of what’s goin’ down here. You get the experimental element through innovative approaches to these recordings & ideas…and of course, with all things experimental in nature, there are some tunes that’ll work out extremely well for Lounge Act Jam, and others that need a bit more polish on’em, or time in the incubator. As far as the bedroom part is concerned…I’m assuming that’s accurate in terms of where some of these tunes have been recorded, or at the very least, likely in a home studio. No problem with me there…we dig that here at sleepingbagstudios…it’s the ideas that matter most, production & all that glossy stuff comes in later on…maybe. Then there’s the Alternative factor…which is fairly pronounced on a couple of these cuts and then dialed-back in others…being a one-man show, there’s a whole lotta acoustic Indie-Folk style cuts too; they all flex a quirky set of tendencies and inspirations…perhaps that’s the Alternative part.
And so here we are, however you’d describe or define the blend of sound & ideas you’ll find on this new record by Lounge Act Jam…you’ll discover a range of strange & blissful oddities flowing through your speakers. All from the mind of one man…Alan Tzu-yu Yang…a dude with a clear passion for making music I fully respect. It’s all about gettin’ the music out there, man…as they say…or someone said…I’m pretty sure someone music have said that at some point, or at least if not, I’m here saying it now. Take a sincere lesson from the heart of what this project’s all about though…if you CAN make music, DO it. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, don’t wait to put a song out there into the world because it contains one or two flaws…embrace the art & just let the music flow…to me, that’s what Alan seems to be about.
Though I will say this…if every song had the incredible sonic detail & depth he puts into the first cut called “Pluto Waits For Nothing” I’d be his number-one fan without question. Although I dig a lot of what’s to follow on Diabolical, this is also the only track you’ll find on the record with this kind of edge to it…essentially, it’s in a whole different style than the majority of what you’ll hear on this album. As to whether or not it ends up suiting Diabolical as a result, or the other songs vice-versa…might be another story or question to ask – “Pluto Waits For Nothing” might have been better suited as a single perhaps. That being said, I’m certainly not complaining whatsoever, so don’t get me wrong – my ears want to eat songs like this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…the palette of sounds and sonic frequencies Lounge Act Jam taps into during the course of “Pluto Waits For Nothing” make for an extraordinary adventure. I mean depth sincerely…listen to the distance between the drums and the guitars in the distance before the searing lead-tones come ripping through – we’re talking instrumental music that would fit right into the Trip-Hop community with EASE and full-acceptance here. If Alan ends up making music that rivals Portishead one day, don’t come at me surprised…because you can completely hear that potential here for sure…I mean, this is already one-singer short of being RIGHT there. The bombastic dynamics incorporated here make a gigantic impact…but the sound-selection itself is equally as essential to it all. At times curious & mysterious…at others jarring and explosive…if you like a song that’ll genuinely keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat – and you SHOULD – “Pluto Waits For Nothing” will fully deliver in sound & style with abundance & wicked creativity that leads to spectacular results, full-stop.
The power & impact of “Pluto Waits For Nothing” does affect the quiet nature of the acoustic-based cut to follow, called “Idea Of Me,” which wanders through its melody like a lucid dream. There’s a hollowness & a melancholy thread that runs through the music, which I dig…I also think the way that the vocals come out on this cut have an impressive artistic design, structure, and flow that make this tune engaging…enough. It’s hard to say if this cut will land the impact & attention the creativity on display deserves…the explosive sounds of the opening track on Diabolical do end up making it a large adjustment to get into the next two tracks to follow it…because you kinda end up craving that wild intensity or a similar level of busyness in the music itself. “Idea Of Me” scales back the sound of this record to what you’ll find becomes the majority…it ends up being a bit of oddly jarring transition into the bulk of the album, especially considering this track being as subtle as it is.
“Afterparty” expands the brightness, melody, & rhythm a little bit more from where “Idea Of Me” leaves off…probably contains a few more vibes & hooks that people will connect to quicker…that’s possible here…feels like Alan plays this cut with a bit more of an inspired spark in his energy. The bold acoustic strum on this track works real well…musically, it’s a bare-bones recipe, but it’s played solidly and Lounge Act Jam transitions between the different parts of this song with confidence in the execution. Vocally, there’s a range of results goin’ on here, from the strangely poetic lyricism, to some tones hitting the perfect notes of sincerity, moments of wild personality on display, and the occasional raunchy half-grunge-growl-sing thing goin’ down, like you’ll find towards the end. Whether or not Lounge Act Jam would have been able to follow up “Pluto Waits For Nothing” with any tune and found immediate acceptance is a questionable quandary to puzzle & muse over – my gut tells me that having that first song up front on this record ends up muting the impact & effect of “Afterparty” and “Idea Of Me.”
Would I take a whole lot more than a single minute of “Shine (Interlude)” – absolutely! This moment is definitely way too short and a melody I’d be taking a close look at expanding into a larger tune of its own – because right around the halfway point, you’ll hear the magnetic hook he’s latched onto for a bar or two as the song transitions…and there is definitely something there I’d wanna go back to if I had written it. Funny how sometimes the shortest cuts on a record can often make such a big impact, but that’s the facts here…I think there’s a stronger potential for what I hear in the short amount of time on “Shine (Interlude)” than I do in either of the two track right before it. But that’s probably just the thing with a band like Lounge Act Jam…it’s all about getting these ideas down now while they’re fresh & inspired – you have a lifetime to go back to them, recreate them, remix them, re-release them, so on & so forth.
I think the smooth sounds of “Violent Love” will have no problem finding ears and an audience out there. There’s other-stuff that definitely drives me a bit batty here, but it’s all intentional…something happening in the production of this song and the shifting of sound from the lefts to the rights that ends up making me feel like I’m going deaf in one ear or the other as “Violent Love” plays on. Idea-wise though, I’m loving it…even if this does make me feel like I’m losing my mind, I’m old & that’s on me anyhow. What appears to be straight-ahead on the surface has multiple experimental threads from the production to the digital sounds that come up into the mix from underneath as “Violent Love” continues on with its laidback, mellow, and curious vibe…definitely some quality hooks in this track for sure, and some excellent guitar work in both the lead & rhythm layers to be found as well. No matter the results here, I love the fact that Alan is willing to push the limits and put a twist on what he could have played completely safe & simple…whatever the reaction to those twists may be, they help this song stand out.
“Memories (In My Head)” actually sounds like it borrows a bit from old-school Soul, R&B, & Pop music, even if you find it here though the Indie-Folk perspective. You could scatter a bit of Psychedelic sound into the descriptions or comparison here and that’d be apt enough as well…”Memories (In My Head)” is actually quite the expressive & colorful tune on Diabolical…it’s not without the occasional quirk here & there, but the majority of this idea is largely intact and hits the mark he’s looking for. He really gets a fantastic mix of tone & distance on his guitars throughout a large part of this record, “Memories (In My Head)” has that for sure…combined with the dreamy vibes of the layered vocals, there’s a lot going for this cut. Oddly enough, with the hum that comes along in the atmosphere of this track, it ends up sounding almost more live than the track to follow, which actually IS a live cut…so there’s that…good or bad, you decide. At times I’ve been more sure of the moves Lounge Act Jam has made than I am with the ones made here in the mix/production…I think the imperfections you’ll find in the mix of this one might be more of a result of genuine limitations in the recording or perhaps production, or maybe both. Undoubtedly “Memories (In My Head)” proves to be the mix that might have gotten away from Lounge Act Jam the most, including a dramatic volume shift – but in terms of ideas on this record, you could probably find this track nestled safely in the top five or best of the best for many listeners out there if it had it all together; as it stands, “Memories (In My Head)” comes through strong enough that it still warrants your time to listen…but it also induces a bit of wonder as to what it could become in a remix.
Dude’s got a great natural set of skills and clearly possesses the courage to put himself out there in whatever raw form his songs end up being recorded in…but you’ll absolutely hear his knack for melody & that warped-Indie perspective in the lyricism on a cut track like “Dwell (Rest Your Soul)” [Live In Sanctuary] – lots of brackets goin’ on here, but a truly endearing cut you’ll find on this record. Listen to moments like around the three-minute mark though…listen to Alan just let it all go and get right into this cut, busting out a soulful section of vocals unlike any we’ve heard on this record so far. If we’re stacking songs up against similar sounds on this record, I again think what you’ll find here is likely much more satisfying & memorable on a track like “Dwell (Rest You Soul)” [Live In Sanctuary] than say, “Idea Of Me” or “Afterparty” at the beginning of Diabolical. Perfectly imperfect, Lounge Act Jam catches a free-flowing vibe here with the spirit and gumption of a Blind Melon tune played live to a small audience of YOU. You could probably argue that Alan gets a little on the emo side of his vocals here…acoustic emo of course…but you get the idea & that’d be a fair assessment for sure; to me it works. As to whether or not it’ll work for the rest of you out there…all I’m saying is take a moment to consider just what a large portion of the world ended up connecting to bands like Dashboard Confessional and The Decemberists seeking out that same level of captivating raw honesty in their thick of their magnificent melodies.
Depending on what he wants to do with Lounge Act Jam, Alan’s got some opportunities to refine the sound or get more out of his songs. When you hear a song like “Hanging In The Air (In Your Dreams You Could Breathe Again)” you can hear that there’s a 99% chance he’s both playing & singing at the same time – which don’t get me wrong, that’s gonna help his live game for sure…but if you’ve got time in the recording sessions, which assuming these ‘bedroom’ sounds do have, then hey man, I say take advantage of that. Split up those duties and make sure you’re getting the best of both worlds when it’s time to push record through separated tracks…I could be completely wrong about all this mind you, I have no factual knowledge (like, ever), just theories of course. But yeah…a bit on the rawer-than-raw side on a few of these notes…that being said, at its core, there’s still a quality idea being presented here through both the music & microphone that could verifiably become something even more one day. There’s an inherent sweetness to this tune and to much of what Lounge Act Jam creates that seems to connect in its own unique way no matter what…like you genuinely root for these melodies to succeed.
As much as I loved me some “Pluto Waits For Nothing” at the beginning of Diabolical, there’s a good chance I love “Live Through Spring” just as much, for about the complete 180-degree turn of opposite reasons. “Live Through Spring” is stunningly subtle, distant, and extraordinarily creative for such a mellow set of vibes at the end of the day…and you’ll hear in what Alan brings to the vocals of this tune, that Lounge Act Jam even has that honey-golden Bon Iver potential if this project ever feels like reaching in to grab a piece of that pie. For me personally, it was the music of this song that hit the mark even more…I think “Live Through Spring” is a beautifully melancholy & mesmerizing moment in time, executed with creative curiosity and landing on complete audio gold from beginning to end. It feels like we walked into soundcheck with Lounge Act Jam in the middle of a giant hall, playing to a fully empty auditorium with the music & vocals perfectly bouncing all around you just slightly to fill the entire place right up. Like many of the songs on this record, I have no clue what Lounge Act Jam is actually singing due to the approach taken to the vocals – but this…THIS is the kind of song you don’t even need the words to sing along with…”Live Through Spring” has that spectacularly innocent Indie-Folk vibe done perfectly. This is music you can truly feel within you & I don’t think you could possibly ask for more out of Lounge Act Jam than exactly what you get right here…”Live Through Spring” is remarkably beautiful.
Ain’t nothing on the final track “Destiny, Paradise!” that a plosive-screen couldn’t fix right up for the man…a tiny investment that’d likely make the difference on keeping a few of these acoustic moments from coming through too intensely. Examining ideas for what they are, like we have with many of the tunes throughout this record – Lounge Act Jam has a sweet melody at the core of this song that certainly works. Musically, it’s uniquely quaint vibes are more than pleasing and definitely create an inviting atmosphere that’ll welcome you right in to sit & listen. ”Destiny, Paradise!” might be a bit too laidback for its own good, or a fairly newer-song in the set-list by comparison to the rest…there are a few moments where the timing will get a little…hmm…let’s say inventive for now. Sure, it could be potentially tighter in that respect, but the far vast majority of this final tune is more than satisfying to listen to, and ultimately it’s these moments where you can hear things speed up or slow down for a brief second that reveal a lot of the organic approach that Lounge Act Jam takes to making music overall. Like I’ve been saying from the get-go here…it’s all about getting the music out there & the ideas recorded; Diabolical continually shows the promise & potential of an artist with a wild imagination & a whole lotta heart. It’s inventive stuff and Alan’s clearly got a passion & gift for creative songwriting that has multiple access points for listeners out there to find their own way into the music he makes…as to where he’ll take them next or what he comes up with, only time will tell – but it’ll certainly be worth checking it out.
Find more music from Lounge Act Jam at Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/lounge-act1998
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