Under Review



Seeing Green



After practicing many of the songs on Seeing Green over the past year at shows around Vancouver, Dumb release their first full-length on Mint Records this June. It’s a logical step from a band that clearly works hard and has boundless energy to deliver tight sets while continuously mocking the most ostentatious of Vancouver’s wealthy.

Seeing Green’s songs don’t stick around long, but dip their toes into math-rock, surf and patches of country — kind of like if the Pixies were interested in being comprehensible. Vocalist Franco Rossino’s sardonic delivery is at turns convincingly self-deprecating and condescending, with clear contempt for many of the characters that pop up throughout Seeing Green. Lyrics like “Send an invoice / Call your lawyer / Capital discourse / Tom Sawyer,” have fun at power’s expense, proving that Dumb know that a viable way to be punk is just making capitalists look freaking uncool.

Highlights include the first single “Mint,” which packs meandering guitars and cooing backing vocals into a quick pop punk tune. Perhaps one reason why Dumb have remained so prolific for the past few years, playing what seems like a show every weekend, is that they are actually having fun. Midway through the album, the energetic “Party Whip” smartly aligns political compromise with loser schmoozing. “Cowboy,” another highlight, includes a mathy bassline interspersed with staccato strumming and a gravelly vocal delivery that takes a sudden left turn into twang territory after the two minute mark, making every second of this song delightfully unexpected.

Production is handled by Jordan Koop and the style could be described as spartan. His dry treatment allows for each instrument to be easily distinguished, highlighting Shelby Vredik’s basswork and Rossino’s lyrics. But at times, like the lurching “Artfact” or album closer “Roast Beef,” there’s a lack of atmosphere to the recordings. Texture is swapped out for clarity and some of the kinetic energy of these tracks is lost in this transaction.  

The 14-track span of Seeing Green covers your party tracks, anxious outbursts and downer ditties. Dumb write short anthems that see the band work in sync to make a catchy, surprising and self-assured album.


Cocaine and Rhinestones

Podcast Series


If a story goes unshared, what becomes of it? Cocaine and Rhinestones’ host Tyler Mahan Coe is highly concerned with this question. As a fan (or, more accurately, a historian) of 20th Century country music and the stories behind the songs, Mahan Coe produces a podcast from his home of Nashville that is rife with his knowledge and passion for the yarns and lore of country music.

Cocaine and Rhinestones subscribes to the Thomas King definition of history, as defined in his work The Inconvenient Indian, “[history] is the stories we tell about the past.” To quote Mahan Coe on the podcast’s website: “History matters…[and] this history wasn’t being passed on to a new generation. It was going extinct.” Cocaine and Rhinestones’ mission then, is to revive fading history and share it through a modern and digestible medium.

The podcast’s devotion to detail is evident in episode five of its first season, “Breaking Down Merle Haggard’s Okie From Muskogee.” In this episode, Mahan Coe delves into the story behind one of the most iconic country songs to come out of the late 1960’s, taking the listener back to 1927 and the Great Depression in America. From this backdrop, Mahan Coe tells the story of the term “okie,” a derogatory expression for impoverished migrants who wandered westward during the Great Depression, and what it came to mean. He includes excerpts of speeches by President Hoover, songs like Woody Guthrie’s “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Yuh,” and other audio-clips from the 1930’s. These clips do the work of presenting an abbreviated history of post-war America, which in turn provides a political and social backdrop along with lyrical context for “Okie from Muskogee.”

The detail and nuance of each episode of Cocaine and Rhinestones bathes the listener in a rich history of country music. Far from a dry history lesson, Mahan Coe commits to bring these stories to life by providing excerpts of recordings and directly quoting each artist he discusses. As a result, the listener leaves each episode feeling almost as if they were a historian themselves, enjoying an informative and captivative experience. This balance of entertainment with devotion to detail is what defines Cocaine and Rhinestones; where other shows would be quick to discuss the marrow of the bone, Mahan Coe takes his time to develop a narrative for each episode. It’s because of this thorough narrative that Cocaine and Rhinestones stands out from other podcasts.