CD Cover Mark David Browning

Review by Dorothy Parvaz

45-second excerpt from "Riding Into Mexicali" (various formats)

Mark David Browning is not bad -- for a folksy, activist, acoustic musician. This isn't meant to be dismissive in any way, but, well, that's what he is.

His debut album, Mexico, is loaded with the run of the mill rants on what's gone so desperately wrong with this world. We're consumers. We're polluters. We're wasteful. We're selfish. We've built ugly hotels in Mexico.

(He includes a mini-essay under the CD that's addressed "To the Greedheads..." Kind of like Jane Addiction's "To the Mosquitoes" in the Ritual de lo Habitual jacket. Hmm. If you're buying young Mark's CD, does that make you an evil consumer? No, no. Can't be. So, then his passionate essay isn't all that effective, because the chances of a "greedhead" buying Browning's CD and seeing it are fuck all and none. Ah, the sad futility of low-level activism.)

But Browning shouldn't be put down for his efforts. At least the guy seems to be thinking of more interesting things than most people in his age group, who are wrapping up their MBAs and trying to figure out if they should buy their first Beamer in British Racing Green or a nice, understated fire-engine red.

There's a cozy, dime-store poetry quality to Browning's writing. He sings these earnest songs (in a voice that sounds curiously like D:A:D's Jesper Binzer) over a crisp guitar. And Mexico is a sweet little disc. All of its eight tracks, especially "Alberta Rain" and "Mexico," are soft and melodic... the sort of songs that would sound good around a campfire or in a coffee shop. It ain't earth-shaking stuff, but it's nice.

Maybe it's being young and idealistic that makes Browning a little misguided at times. Check out the intro to "Epitaph for the City" (each song has one of these little prologues in the CD jacket -- just a little clue as to what motivated Browning to write each song, as if you couldn't guess): "Urban living -- what has it given us? Crime, child prostitution, crack, suicide, depression and moral decay..."

Please. As though none of these problems existed in the good ol' days... Pretty shoddy reasoning for someone who has a degree in Political Theory. Didn't they make this guy read any Hobbes, for chrissakes?

Artist Contact Info: P.O. Box 73511, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6E 1B0,

First published in Drop-D Magazine on March 14, 1998

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