Too hot to handle

Too hot to handle

The musical vision of Cool Summer Records

By David Cotner 09/26/2013


Earlier this summer, the Cool Summer Records concert series touched down at the Ojai Rancho Inn.  It was a series that brought startling sounds not usually found in the greater metropolitan Ojai area. With live actions by the nostalgic pop of Pure Bathing Culture, mystic ambient merchants Nite Jewel, Grammy-winning noisers No Age and communal bio-electricians Lucky Dragons, the series propelled its presenter into hemispheres of awareness generally reserved for moguls that have been around for decades longer. The Cool Summer label — “more like a PR agency than a record label,” says co-founder Dave Mount — is operated by a close-knit team indeed.

Since January, Mount, his girlfriend photographer/ Cool Summer poster designer Cara Robbins and publicist/music journalist Aly Comingore have developed a community of like-minded individuals, culminating in the monthly concerts.  Their attention to detail, with both the label and the summer series, belies an affectionate, almost handmade quality to their creations. It’s a sensibility that’s reflected in their concerts at the Inn: an afternoon gathering in a picnic atmosphere of beer, friends and swimming, all in a setting that’s as natural as the care with which Cool Summer imbues its products and productions.

Those productions began when Cool Summer started as a record label in 2010, issuing records by local and national bands alike. When Cool Summer band Gardens & Villa signed to indie label Secretly Canadian and started touring nationally, Mount signed on as tour manager. From there, the progression of the label was a natural one. “When we got back, I kept in touch with as many of the bands as I could, and we decided to produce some shows on my own,” Mount says.  Although it seems tailor-made for the label, the new wooden hexagonal stage at the Inn wasn’t constructed specifically for the Cool Summer series, yet Mount’s enthusiasm for it is palpable. “It’s beautiful. It’s something we’re really excited to put bands on.”

Unlike most record labels, there is no impetus in Mount’s mind to expand the business to include larger vinyl. It remains, for now, expressly a label for the release of 7-inch singles. “My original vision was to work with bands who hadn’t released anything yet, to have their first physical release be something they can take on tour and to the press.” It’s part of Cool Summer’s credo — something that puts more store in having a physical record as exemplary of its sound, something more concrete than an MP3 or a YouTube video.  “It kind of legitimizes a band when you start putting out something physical,” Mount admits, “or when someone outside your band is willing to put that out.  Seven-inches were always a great, inexpensive way to check out a band that you’re curious about. To spend a couple bucks and be able to hold something in your hand legitimizes the band a bit more.  It sets a band apart.”

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