Indie-rock pop group COIN entered the alternative scene in the early 2010s when Belmont University students Chase Lawrence, Ryan Winnen, Joe Memmel and Zach Dyke met through mutual friends and began to write music. The quartet played live shows in Nashville and recorded music at their alma mater, which they released for free on the internet.
Eventually, the group released two EPs that gained them a loyal following just in time for the release of their self-titled debut album in 2015. After two successful albums, the quartet became a trio after bassist Dyke left. Now consisting of Lawrence on lead vocals, Winnen on drums and Memmel on lead guitar, COIN reached commercial success with their 2020 album, “Dreamland.”
After canceling their headlining “Dreamland” tour and their opportunity to open for 5 Seconds of Summer’s “No Shame” tour was postponed, the band got to work and in the short span of a month and a half, COIN released two new albums.
The first of these releases came out in March, the album “Green Blue + Indigo Violet,” which is a combination of their previously released EP, “Indigo Violet,” and four new songs. Although the album is shorter than the band’s previous records — only eight songs — the music is engaging and complex and provides a strong follow-up to their highly successful past three albums.
With over 5 million monthly listeners on Spotify, the group’s success has allowed them ample opportunity for collaborations. On “Green Blue + Indigo Violet,” the trio teamed up with Faye Webster for their funky synth-pop song “Sagittarius Superstar,” which currently has over 2.5 million streams on Spotify.
The album contains a perfect combination of soft, sweet and subtle hits like “Turnaround,” “Make It Stop” and “Earth to God,” along with their synth-rock pop tunes found in their opening song “Sprite,” “Sort It Out,” “I Feel Alive?” and “You Are the Traffic.”
After the release of “Green Blue + Indigo Violet,” COIN released another album on April 30, titled “Rainbow Mixtape.” The album consists of the eight songs from “Green Blue + Indigo Violet,” plus four additional songs that were added to the very beginning of the record: “Hypnotica,” “How It Feels,” “Dream House” and “Different Moons.”
The combination album(s) was a result of isolation. Since the band’s almost-tours had ended before they even began due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Lawrence moved back to his childhood home in West Virginia to focus on writing.
In the four-walled sanctuary of his adolescence, Lawrence and his bandmates (virtually) created what would become the “Rainbow Mixtape.” According to an interview with American Songwriter, COIN broke the songs into color categories since it felt more natural. Lawrence said, “We broke it down to its elementary form and felt like colors really represented the lyrical and sonic themes.”
Tina Benitez-Eves of American Songwriter wrote the following about the color theory that was involved in the process of the album’s creation: “Moving into color theory and meaning and spectral dynamics, COIN navigated three individual pockets of music, each EP consisting of four color-coded songs with ‘Indigo Violet’ shifting through the reflective links of ‘Sort It Out’ and ‘Make It Stop’ and its drop of levity on ‘I Feel Alive,’ while the atmospheric ‘Green Blue’ drifts into the soft rock and folk-pop elements of ‘Sagittarius Superstar’ featuring Faye Webster, and up-tempo ‘Sprite.’ Closing the colorful troika, the fiery R&B-fueled ‘Red Orange,’ tying ‘Rainbow Mixtape’ together.”
The album is subtle and sweet with its folk-pop influences and its indie-rock roots, but despite the distinct color-coded chapters that have gone into the music, “Rainbow Mixtape” is cohesive, embodying the distinctive sound that COIN fans know and love.
Standout songs like “You Are the Traffic,” “Turnaround” and “How It Feels” perfectly represent the synth-pop-indie-folk-rock sound that is completely and totally COIN’s own. “Rainbow Mixtape” takes COIN’s musical production and lyrical ingenuity to soaring new heights with both bright and bold, summery sounds, as well as sweet and subdued ballads.
The EPs come together to form a fully-fledged rainbow, hence the name “Rainbow Mixtape,” and Lawrence stated that the album was a “time capsule” of the pandemic, an idiosyncratic season that everyone has lived through.
Much like Taylor Swift’s quarantine dream albums, “Folklore” and “Evermore,” and Hayley Williams’ folk-inspired isolation album, “Flowers for Vases / Descansos,” COIN is yet another set of performers to release music in the midst of the ever-changing musical landscape brought on by the pandemic.
COIN’s “Rainbow Mixtape” is a stunning compilation album that blends complex, diverse stylistic devices together to paint their own histories, as well as mark themselves in the pandemic narrative by creating an album in a new and unknown world of at-home production and virtual collaboration.
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