Copeland On Unknown Sundays 2024


The magic of the music being played in the record store. There’s a reason – y’know. That audio signature is there to entice the ear, but that’s not always how it works when the receiver in the store is not in the right frame of audio mind. Sure, I’ve heard it a few times, where a customer asks either to turn the music down, or why it’s at such a volume (as if this is library). The look on the store clerk or owner’s face is always priceless. It would be the same for me, too, if I ran a record store. Oh, if I ran a record store…but that’s a story of maybe another day (that would be the like the sun and moon aligning, oh wait, that’s happening tomorrow).

The CD Exchange in Orchard Park, run by Bill Boehm, was one of those record stores that was a hint more cognizant of his clientele, keeping the album selections in the soft-rock, indie, electronica, and soft R&B. Think of Sade, Portishead, Mazzy Star, Jack Johnson, and of course, he always slid in Dave Matthews Band, Train, and others. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he would have loved to put on some Van Halen, Type O Negative, or Rush, but he stuck to the subtle underscoring music to leave the impression, and a lot of the time it worked on me. I guess that’s not a huge surprise, but just think how many times you may have been in a music store and heard a song, or a couple from a band as you browsed, thinking, I’m really digging this. Who is this?

This day, in the store, I was definitely struck that the soft rock of this band was leaking a bit into heavier sonic guitar work, which was dangling outside his usual signature music. It was in the wheelhouse mostly, having a familiarity of Ben Folds-ish, Five For Fighting meets Indie-Rock like Coldplay to some degree but more Mae or Relient K or Switchfoot maybe, but there were changes that showcased a different tone and reach toward emo and indie-rock, which at the time was a pretty big part of the listening culture of the music multiverse in the start to the 2000s (at least the first five years). It also had this jazz drum led song that was very much in the stream of what he would play in the store, so I’m really loving the range and changes. So, I did that other thing, that comes from having music being played in the store. I asked, “Hey, who is this, Bill?”

Copeland. Two friends from Lakeland, Florida. A guitar and piano playing singer-songwriter, Aaron Marsh, and bass guitarist, James Likeness. Bryan Laurenson on rhythm guitar, who basically seems to have been the only constant with Marsh, as Likeness would eventually leave the band to pursue a career in graphic design, which he had probably given up for Copeland. The two albums, Beneath the Medicine Tree and In Motion, were the albums I had heard at that moment, which is sort of an unusual thing in that day and age. The band released, In Motion (2005) but included Beneath the Medicine Tree within the record contract to engage the audience with more of the material, which included low-fi, alternative versions of songs, as well. A really great value, and with there being so much quality and good production, it proved to be an incredibly smart decision. Whether it’s the medical issue melancholy and hope of the debut, or the forward momentum and drive of their sophomore album, Copeland lyricism and delivery is extremely accessible in any class and situation (definitely a hint more in line with the female ear).

Why, Copeland? I mean you’re thinking this sounds like any other band. Well, here’s the important part. They had the element of indie-soft-rock, but they had this knack for brining in instruments, loop, and interesting and daring accompaniments to their tracks, like the xylophone of ‘Where’s My Head’ from the third album, Eat. Sleep. Repeat. which is interesting considering this was the first album they probably had the drummer slightly solidified over a studio musician (as I see not listing of a member in that capacity until this record’s timing). So, they were never afraid to go for it. That is not the only song that features that instrument on this album, either. It also had interesting drum work, feeling as if sometimes that drums actually feel like the “repeat” of the album’s title, feeling like sometimes they are going in reverse to the melodies. And, there are a lot more examples of cleverness in keyboard/piano that hints toward classical movement in the song, ‘The Last Time He Saw Dorie.’

While nothing about Copeland remains in a constant because of the reach of his vocal and high register attempts (mostly without the use of autotuning), as well the wispy choices and growing use of augmented production tricks for certain song moods, Marsh is almost always captivating. The song writing attention is grounded, often simple, but profound enough. He knows the power of a line, when to hang on it, and when to just let it be. He understands his own range and the importance of the music and production around him being able to effect the mood of a piece, and sometimes over the entire album. The lyrics, tons to appreciate and think about;

  • “You break your neck to keep your chin up.” – Chin Up, You Are My Sunshine.
  • “Or, the grace in your eyes overcomes any fall.” – Kite, In Motion.
  • “Perhaps when the day is new, We’ll find tomorrow is just ordinary, too.” Ordinary, Ixora
  • “Bright white puffs on the bluest pages” Skywriter, Blushing

They are a unique blend, and they were always reaching album by album for something slightly different, engaging, and true to their storylines of connection in love and loss of love, as well as common tribulations of life. I do love the fact that they loved to do a cover, holding it very close to the original, but putting it in the Copeland wheelhouse slightly:

Aaron Marsh’s voice shows up in other bands like Lydia, Anberlin, The Cinema, and Underoath to mention, which showcases the slight variety of genre he bounces between. He also was in The Lulls In Traffic’s, which utilizes loop and light hip-hop rap and piano arrangements (actually quite well done and a rabbit hole to go down). There was also the two 2021 EP(s) for Glaswing called Like Water On A Glass Table and I’m In the Checkout Line of My Life, which have a ambient texture in piano and rhythm with Marsh’s vocal (more close to Copeland in my opinion just more electronic in some parts).

No matter where you are in your listening habits, Copeland makes a good solid argument for the subtle influxes, emo-tive mixes, and background attention we pay to music. Whether it comes from the play choices of a fabulous records store in time, or from a silly website, YouTube channel from a music junkie. So, let’s do this again next week!? Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Albums in my collection by Copeland
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