Mountaineer! is the solo project from California-based artist, Danny Poissant. During the last six months of his senior year at the University of California, Poissant was also toiling away at writing, recording, and mixing his first album, Family Trees. The ten song debut album is pretty ambitious considering Poissant was also busy, you know, finishing his college degree. Although the sound quality is decisively lo-fi (given it was recorded with “crappy instruments” and his laptop microphone) there is a clear amount of thought and effort that went into the entire songwriting process.
On the surface, Family Trees is mostly a lighthearted and quirky album, but it’s also very reflective on the experiences of young adulthood. Musically, the first half of the album is the most childlike and whimsical featuring softer sounds and twinkling xylophone. Tracks like “Cetacea” especially capture the innocence and wonder of childhood. The lyrics, however, tend to stray into the darker end of the spectrum. A strong example of this change is in “Sleepy Ghosts” when Poissant recalls, “You asked me what it’s like to die/I wish I did, but I don’t know/Just bury me, it’s getting cold.”
The album shifts mid-way with “The Rain Song” which has a grittier feel compared to its predecessors. The second half is more mature and exotic with ukulele and Spanish-style acoustic guitar. Vocals tend to take a backseat to the guitar and rolling percussion, but Poissant’s style is very similar to Meric Long of The Dodos. Unfortunately, the vocals are only present in a handful of songs, and it would have been nice to hear more.
Overall, Mountaineer! is an intriguing debut project with a range of styles that makes it more than just lo-fi. There are elements of rock, pop, folk, and even world music that keeps things fresh and interesting.
Family Trees is out now and available as a name your own price download from Bandcamp.
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