Earlier in the month I interviewed Mason Summit, a young emerging artist from Santa Monica. On the nineteenth, he released his latest album Summer Cold, which differs from his previous originals by incorporating pop sensibilities and boasting a decidedly DIY approach. For this record, Summit tried his hand at mixing, engineering and managing his own press. Summer Cold heralds a learning curb for the USC Thornton music student, bringing an era of authenticity and honesty to his career.
The album begins with Almost Fell For It, a pop-punk song which featured an interesting chord progression with the melody highlighting its harmonic minor feel. Take What I Can Get had a clear, soft-pop, beachy feel that most would associate with the sixties. I thought the guitar solo matched the slow, lazy atmosphere of the track; however, I wasn’t convinced by the synth sound used for a solo as it was not introduced earlier in the track.
What struck me throughout this album was Summit’s ability to be subtle. In the first two tracks there were subtle uses of distortion, with Voodoo Doll, Like Hell and Catch & Release employing understated strings, vocal harmonies and piano chords. I found the lyrics of the former to signal the beginning of the record’s sophistication. I believe this is why subtlety works well for Summit’s music; it allows the listener to focus on the lyrics and melody.
An acoustic vibe continues throughout most of the second half of the album, with Catch & Release absorbing a slight country style in its rhythm. Biting My Nails was melodically refreshing, with slides from one note to another giving the illusion that Summit was singing slightly out of time. I do think there needed to be an upbeat track at this point in the record, as Alone With You was slow in tempo and lengthy. I did enjoy the pizzicato excerpts as well as the organ chords at the end of chorus. Casu Marzu was quite an eclectic piece. Devoid of vocals, the synth sounds and the percussion section mingled together like an ultra-modern classical composer and an elevator jazz producer decided to collaborate on a piece.
Seventh & Santa Fe was chromatic in nature, with an easy listening vibe to it. I enjoyed the change from duple to triple in Summer Cold, and found the lyrics to be strangely charming. The introduction to One Good Thing was great as it showed a slightly quirkier side to Summit’s music. Ending the album, Stick It Out used a faster tempo to lift the listener’s spirit. It reminded me of a typical theme tune used for comedy and drama television shows, which are usually catchy and memorable.
For someone as young as Summit, this album is well produced and composed. If it were up to me I’d tweak a few things, like the order of the tracks and some instrumental choices, but those mostly come down to personal taste. So, if you’re into alternative and acoustic pop, this album should definitely be on your list. I give the album 8/10.