Emo underdogs Oso Oso made one of the best albums of the year | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Emo underdogs Oso Oso made one of the best albums of the year

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The Yunahon Mixtape, the second full-length by Long Island punk lifer Jade Lilitri, who records and performs as Oso Oso, is about the denizens of a fictional town called Yunahon. It’s also the story of frustration—not necessarily in the creative process, but during the final stages of its birth. After an unsuccessful search for a label, Lilitri uploaded the album to Bandcamp last January as a pay-what-you-want release. Despite its beginnings, the album set a high bar for emo and indie rock that few other 2017 albums have surpassed. That’s because above all else, The Yunahon Mixtape is about hope and about giving yourself over to the power of guitars that can thrust you beyond the sphere of your everyday life, if only for three- to five-minute chunks. With the sudden surge of a chorus or a particularly delightful display of interlocking guitars, Lililtri taps into feelings that for generations of young rock fans have made the rest of the world feel inconsequential compared to their favorite music; that quality whereupon listening, the hairs on your arms straight up, the energy of the room suddenly changes, and everything looks a little different. Lilitri’s welcoming vocals add to that effect, and though the themes of The Yunahon Mixtape flavor his delivery, it seems he’d be able to accomplish that no matter what he was singing about. The album is even more immersive due to his nimble musicianship and sweet songwriting sensibilities—the first time the chorus for the intimate-yet-grand “Reindeer Games” blasts off is as much a view of the Lilitri’s imagined universe as it is a reminder of the things that can make existing in our individual fucked-up worlds great.   v

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