too. Was thinking that the spotty browning on that tree looks like it could be spider mite damage. Here's what I'd do:
First, do NOT cut out any of the brown areas. You will just leave holes that will never fill in. Let the tree recover, hose it down from weekly in dry weather to wash off any new spider mite infestations and those twigs might grow new green needles. Let's hope.
Second you could cut off the dead twigs around the base if you want. Winter is probably a good time to do that. Or just plan to plant something around the tree that will screen that area in the spring.
Third, definitely cover up that black mulch with some natural colored wood chips so it's not so horribly hot in that area next summer. That poor little tree has been very stressed which would make it more susceptible to the spider mites.
I also hate dyed mulch whether red, or brown or black, but I'd dare to assume that the icky stuff has probably leached out of that mulch by now. Natural wood chip mulch does a much better job of cooling the soil since it bleaches out to a nice light color. All plants appreciate having their roots kept a little bit cooler in summer, not to mention the other benefits of holding in moisture and preventing erosion/compaction of the soil.