Album Review: Oso Oso – The Yunahon Mixtape

Oso Oso
The Yunahon Mixtape
(Seal Mountain Records)

Surprise dropping a record at the beginning of the year is like finally finding a way off of long cold and empty island. It’s the journey to exiting any stale views, any lack of creativity and stepping back into the ocean of unknown. It’s this imagery that rides through Jade Lilitri’s latest release of Oso Oso, The Yunahon Mixtape. A longtime veteran in the N.Y. punk/indie underground, Lilitri stepped out of the shadow of his influences, gathering a way to sound like, with them and everything in between.

The remarkable trait of Oso Oso is the weaving of melodies from multiple angles, attacking with a certain prowess that other bands might still be waiting to find. Immediately on “the cool” we hear Lilitri emphasizing guitar chords with bright leads. And when the guitars are not accenting the rhythm, well vocals work just as well. Throughout the rest of the record, Lilitri does exactly the same, making sure to keep rhythm patterns catchy as ever and fully embracing pop sensibility within refrains. Every chord in the world has plenty of other harmonies to find, and Oso Oso crafted a record that does finds every right one and more. This is especially evident on tracks with the boldest of riffs, like “the plant mouth.” What makes this track shine is the emotional depth of the orchestration; it sounds somber and it brutally is. It’s an early 2000’s indie structured record that highlights Lilitri’s understanding of songwriting, especially in keeping to the pace and vive of the entire collection of songs.

Lyrically, there’s plenty of allusions and references to that feeling of love. “shoes (the sneaker song)” highlights the euphoria and wonder of being with the very person one wants to be with. It’s the same feeling of being on the clouds, and Lilitri remarks that “it’s cool.” This is both a reference to the opening track, giving an idea that there is plenty woven into The Yunahon Mixtape that doesn’t have to beat people over the head with poeticism. Not that Lilitri doesn’t do that, as the direct end rhymes of “the walk” are the very beauty of the track’s underlying excitability. Oso Oso is meant to keep as blunt and staunch as possible, riding through the decisions of wanting to figure out the exact path one needs to take to feel anything; much less write a record that simplifies its complex emotions. As the record comes to a close, Lilitri pulls out the ultimate meta and relays the information that this love was all a fuck up. Everything that you thought you found? Well just try to not go through it alone.

The musicianship of this particular record is brought to life by the expansive tastes that Lilitri brings to the table. Whether it’s a simple picked chord progression (“get there (when you’re there)”) or soaring and angst driven punches (“the bearer of truths”), Oso Oso resonate with not only itself but listeners across the board of influences. The Yunahon Mixtape doesn’t need to reinvent anything, it is already original to itself.

Purchase the album here.

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