By Robert McCall
WHEN: 2000 – present
CULPRITS: Aaron Marsh (vocals, guitar, piano), Stephen Laurenson (guitar), Bryan Laurenson (guitar, piano), Jon Bucklew (drums) / Former Members: James Likeness, Rusty Fuller, Thomas Blair, Jarrett Smith
ALBUMS: Copeland / Pacifico – Split EP (2001), Beneath Medicine Tree (2003), Copeland / The Pale – Split EP (2003), Know Nothing Stays The Same EP (2004), In Motion (2005), Eat, Sleep, Repeat (2006), Dressed Up & In Line (2007), You Are My Sunshine (2008), The Grey Man EP (2009)
HOW: While riding in a friend’s car around Abilene, TX, he was playing music he had just gotten from a mutual friend. He said, “Listen to this – Copeland is the truth.” I figured that if the band was actually the truth, I should get to know them. “Testing the Strong Ones” came on and I got Beneath Medicine Tree from him shortly thereafter. However, I got distracted by other new music and forgot about it for a while.
In November 2008, I went home to visit family and took a trip to Best Buy with my little brother. While we were there, I just happened to see the new Copeland album, You Are My Sunshine, there with additional materials (self-made videos set to most of the songs on the album, filmtrack about the making of the album, extra artwork, etc.). I remembered how I had liked “Testing the Strong Ones” and gave it a shot. I can now confidently say that You Are My Sunshine is one of my favorite albums to date.
WHY: Because of the way that I came to know Copeland, I had the distinct privilege of hearing their newest, most polished work first and then becoming familiar with their earlier material. It’s kind of like a Nike Soccer commercial that showed video of Ronaldinho (world-class soccer player) as a child with clips of him playing as an adult mixed in. It was easy to see that though he was much smoother and fluid as an adult, the talent had always been there. It was interesting to hear Copeland’s newest music and get to work backwards to see where they came from.
Though the band recently announced that they are going to go their separate ways soon, Copeland’s repertoire has something to apply to almost any mood or feeling. Their versatility allows for music lovers of many different genres to find traces of their favorite type of music in some of Copeland’s work.
SONGS: On the Copeland website, Aaron Marsh claims that probably his favorite thing in music is “that line between lovely and creepy.” This playlist shows the broad scope from lovely and creepy that Copeland achieves. Songs like “You Have My Attention” and “California” represent the band’s appeal as a straight-forward rock band while “Where’s My Head” shows the creepy side of music Marsh loves. “No One Really Wins (Acoustic Version)” and “Hold Nothing Back” show the band’s flowing, soft rock facet while “Coffee” has a lounge-esque, almost jazz feel to it.
Though some of my favorite songs aren’t on this list, I think the list gives a good idea of almost everything of which Copeland is capable. It flows from more upbeat to slower and more ambient with “Coffee” as the transition between the two. While the appeal of the first half is apparent, the appeal of songs like “The Day I Lost My Voice (The Suitcase Song),” “Hold Nothing Back,” and “Not So Tough Found Out” comes after listening to them several times and discovering new intricacies (such as horn sections, ethereal feel, and subtle harmonies) each time.
If anything, this playlist showcases the accessibility of Marsh’s lyrics. Some may become frustrated with the occasional ambiguity of his verses, but it opens them to personal interpretation by the listener. Marsh says he used to try to hone in his lyrics a bit more if he was sounding enigmatic, but as time passed, he has striven more for “emotive than obvious.”
LAST THING: Aaron Marsh’s voice is simply incredible. Listen to “Hold Nothing Back” and you’ll hear what I mean. Then listen to “You Have My Attention” and at the apex of the song, just when you think he couldn’t sing any higher in full voice, he does. Enjoy it.
LINK: Click on the list below to hear COPELAND for free on Lala.com!
Robert McCall is an old friend of Brad’s. What more is there to say?