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Burn Movie Review

Sizzlingly Odd
In his debut feature, writer/director Mike Gan has created a small film that, if there's justice, will attain a cult-like status. "Burn" takes place in the course of one evening and entirely within the confines of a rural, out-of-the-way gas station shop.
It's the kind of place that loners might wander into for a hot cup of coffee at 3am. Obviously this is not a big budget film, but Gan squeezes an awful lot of goodness out of it. Maybe we should call it badness.

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Oso Oso - Basking in the Glow Music Album Reviews

The excellent album from the Long Island singer-songwriter Jade Lilitri is sharp and radiant, a massively catchy guitar record about trying to walk the straight and narrow.

Any cynic can make a resolution to be more positive. It’s another thing to suppress the eye-rolls triggered by all the clichés that come with it—“first things first,” “focus on the good.” This is the challenge Oso Oso frontman Jade Lilitri has taken on—“radically committed to letting the light in”—for his third album, Basking in the Glow. Accordingly, the music is relentless, almost ruthless in its melodic radiance, both a testament to the power of positive thinking and a poignant reminder of its limitations. “Sometimes you do what you feel/Well most times I feel like shit,” he sings on Basking in the Glow’s penultimate track, one that vividly names Lilitri’s white-knuckle grasp on serenity—it’s called “Impossible Game.” You’ve been told “fake it til you make it,” but what if you’ve made it and it still feels fake?


Or, think of Basking in the Glow as Lilitri considering his newfound success and adulation, acting out the anime butterfly meme: “Is this happiness?” Lilitri achieved minor notoriety with the short-lived Long Island emo band State Lines, after which he released his first album as Oso Oso in 2015 to a handful of positive blog reviews and filled in as a second guitarist for the Hotelier in 2016. In order to keep that small-time hustle going, he envisioned a future very similar to his present: living with his parents and saving just enough money to finance his recordings and maybe break even on tour. His breakout album, 2017’s The Yunahon Mixtape, was only called a mixtape because Lilitri couldn’t find a label to release it, so he dropped it on Bandcamp for free. But it achieved the same desired result for any mixtape from an unheralded artist: it created enough buzz to get people to actually pay him to make and play music.

Basking in the Glow appears to follow the M.O. of pop-punk scions Jimmy Eat World on Bleed American, making a “disgustingly catchy and straight-ahead” album as revenge against an industry that was content to ignore them only two years prior. Lilitri has said he’s not fond of the whole dog and pony show of putting out records, but Basking in the Glow has enough potential pop singles to sustain a year-long album roll-out campaign. The melodies were always there for Oso Oso, but here Lilitri achieves the rare feat of making a more maximalist, cinematic album without piling on overdubs, string sections, or convoluted song structures. On the only song that wouldn’t qualify as a radio single, “Intro,” Lilitri reminisces about running his hands through blades of grass and staring at clouds, his words made almost redundant by the kind of dreamy, swelling guitar tones found on early Death Cab for Cutie songs.

Otherwise, Lilitri honors the heightened expectations and trust of his new label, Triple Crown, by embracing his showmanship; “pop” is more of a verb than a genre. The chorus of “Impossible Game” flowers up from a thicket of thorny, minimal guitar lines; the last chorus of “The View” sprints forward from its restrained bridge like a revved-up toy race car; “A Morning Song” and “Wake Up Next to God” have hooks that are both preceded by a split-second break where the guitars drop out. When Lilitri lands on the other side and speeds on, it’s like a little jolt to the chest.

Lilitri’s dedication to concision and coherence doesn’t come at the expense of subtle, sharp songwriting. On the delirious chorus of “The View,” there are certain phrases that he pronounces more clearly and naturally than others. Maybe your ears only catch the words “My eyes lit up when I saw it” or “...everything I wanted” or “...in love with it.” Ostensibly, it’s a song about a crush guided by impulsive infatuation. But dig into the chorus further, and “The View” is Lilitri’s love song to another person’s apathy—looking for “a way out from everything I wanted,” nihilism disguised as Buddhist philosophy.

But as “The View” kneels over for a slight breather during its bridge, Lilitri starts to feel those old wants again, the pull of playing tiny house shows, the songs that only come on at 4 a.m.: “I’m falling into old habits/I’m stepping over the cracks again.” A few minutes later on the title track, he yells, “I hate these songs I sing, this empty drink, do I even give a fuck?” over a glam-rock strut. Otherwise, he’s “making progress in microscopic strides,” “watching optimists drink half-empty cups,” hating how much he misses the one he loves, weighed down by warm memories, dipping only one foot into the lake, each a carefully balanced binary proving either side can only get a temporary upper hand in a never-ending battle.

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Similar to Sparklehorse’s Good Morning Spider, Liltiri makes a commitment to becoming a happier man only after emerging from a sea of static on “One Sick Plan.” It’s a complete outlier on a record produced to a glimmering, late-summer brilliance by Mike Sapone, sounding like a demo cassette fished out of a flooded basement. The lyrics read like a directive he wrote to himself at a much younger age, anticipating the self-doubt and cynicism that can creep in when outside validation is scarce. “I see my demise/I feel it coming/I got one sick plan to save me from it,” he sings over harshly strummed, no-fi acoustics, most likely sick in the Long Island skate-kid sense of the word. It’s also the most vulnerable and dewy-eyed love song he’s written under the Oso Oso name: “Don’t stop chasing what you want...I need heaven, I need you/I need your perfect point of you.”

Lilitri repeatedly circles back to the metaphor of a “narrowing road” on Basking in the Glow, one frequently used in 12-step recovery to describe the way people are less likely to swerve towards temptation with time. “So long, hollowed, narrowing road/I think I’m turning back, it’s the only way I know,” is a frightening thing for Lilitri to admit, but “The View” musters every fiber of its being to propel itself towards “Impossible Game”’s brief and beautiful moment of zen - “I got a glimpse of this feeling, I’m trying to stay in that lane,” Lilitri shouts, teeth gritted, clutching the steering wheel, but committed to moving ever forward towards the light, even if it’s one microscopic stride at a time.


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