Podcast: The Best of Copeland

Recently, heralded indie rock act Copeland released their sixth full-length album, Blushing. On our latest podcast episode, Kiel Hauck is joined by Kyle Schultz and Nadia Paiva to discuss the band’s fantastic new record and the 16-year journey that brought them here. The trio also rank each Copeland album, break down their favorite songs from the band’s discography, and discuss the legacy of a band that has clearly carved out its own place in indie music history. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What is your favorite Copeland album? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Advertisements

Copeland: Cracking Nostalgia in Chicago

copeland-splash

The Double Door is one of those classic music venues in Chicago that almost seems like a stereotype – tucked beneath a train line, it could appear to be a graffiti riddled wall easy to overlook. Inside, it shows its age with darks walls, dim lights and the vinyl-gleamed stucco that old buildings brandish like tattoos. This place was made for music, and even though its location seems pushed to the side, everyone in the city knows and respects its reputation.

There couldn’t be a better location for Copeland’s Now/Then tour. A band who has never particularly been directly in the spotlight, they have caught the attention of the highest aspects of the scene, be that vocalist Aaron Marsh’s recommendation plastered on the cover of arena-rockers Paramore’s debut album or gathering powerhouse talents like Ace Enders and Kenny Vasoli to open for their (first) farewell tour.

The Now/Then tour is an ethereal experience that might focus on the “best of,” but it encompasses every aspect of what makes them such a unique brand. Their writing is nearly orchestral in arrangement, which lends to the fact that they’re one of the few musical acts that might actually sound more polished live than recorded. With a tour structured on working backwards through their discography, Copeland have shown not particularly their growth as a band, but how well-crafted their music has been since Beneath the Medicine Tree came out 13 years ago.

rae-cassidyWith the floor filled with talkative hipsters finding the happy medium between a light buzz and shouting conversation, opener Rae Cassidy took the stage. Armed with three violinists and a ukulele, Cassidy set right in, lightly plucking against the swell of violins. Her voice, bright and powerful, seemed to silence the crowd instantly, with a round of shushing sweeping the back of the room.

A mix of pop and indie R&B, her music was a perfect hybrid of someone who seemed influenced by Copeland’s softness, but embraced multiple genres to flesh itself out, unafraid to let the violins and gentle pauses lead the song. Though the music was soft, her voice was beautiful.

Standing center stage like a princess in a summer dress, she sang with command. I couldn’t help but think of a female Kenny Choi from Wolftron (and Daphne Loves Derby) with country and folk influence imbued with the purpose of Lorde. I was left wondering not only how I had never heard of her before, but also how long it would be before she became a household name.

copeland-3While finishing her last song, Copeland took the stage, becoming her backing band while perfectly transitioning from her setlist to theirs. Their first song, “Not So Tough Found Out” (featuring Rae Cassidy!) suddenly became “Chin Up” as Rae left the stage, only to crop back up throughout the night to provide backing vocals. Her violinists remained on the side, adding to almost every song they played.

Split into two distinct playlists, their first set contained music exclusively from You Are My Sunshine and Ixora, including the version of “Ordinary” off of the companion Ixora: Twin album. It was a perfect ploy to lure back the drop-off fans, who listen to nothing but the “classic” albums. It’s easy to say that a band “doesn’t sound like they used to,” but watching them work backwards, it became obvious that Copeland has known their trajectory all along. It was fascinating to hear the crowd singing along louder with each song as they became more familiar with the material.

After an intermission, they returned to play from their better-known albums, In Motion and Eat, Sleep, Repeat. As expected, this set was much more energetic. Not only because the crowd as a whole knew the words to every song, but because it included the few pop songs with Aaron Marsh on guitar, including “No One Really Wins”. Paired against and after their new material, there was a distinct awareness of just how talented the band was in their younger years compared to their peers. Their first albums didn’t sound like a band finding itself, with singles that sound out of place compared to their current material. “You Have My Attention” stood out as it closed the set with Marsh hitting the perfect high note against the rapidly swelling guitars.

copeland-2After stepping away for just a second, Copeland reappeared for their encore: a full six song set from Beneath the Medicine Tree, arguably their most famed record. Featuring “Take Care”, “When Paula Sparks”, “Coffee” and ending on the bittersweet “California”, the band melted the room into an intoxicating atmosphere of nostalgia and profound romance.

Now/Then is a simple, but effective concept that manages to blur the line between a greatest hits tour and a timeline of artistry that shows the complexity and craft of a band unlike anything else in their genre. They may be tucked away from the obvious, but they were built for this all along.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and has now seen Copeland three times, twice awkwardly opening for punk bands, but holding their own. Aaron Marsh once hit the high note in “You Have My Attention” for what felt like a solid minute. He is for sure over exaggerating the recollection, but the crowd lost its mind cheering Marsh on as he tried to hold it as long as possible. Good times. Better than yours.

 

Vinyl Spotlight: Copeland – Beneath Medicine Tree

Beneath_Medicine_Tree

Every so often, our resident vinyl lover, Kiel Hauck, takes the time to talk about a recent vinyl release and gives a breakdown about everything from packaging to sound quality. Here’s his latest installment.

In the recent flurry of Copeland re-presses, perhaps the most anticipated was the band’s debut – Beneath Medicine Tree. Shop Radio Cast handled pressings of In Motion and You Are My Sunshine last year, along with Eat, Sleep, Repeat in 2013. While all of these were highly anticipated and handled with care, SRC vinyl’s pressing of Beneath Medicine Tree takes the cake.

The Florida indie rock act made their return with last year’s Ixora and are currently out on the road with Paramore. For a band that appeared to be gone for good, this sudden resurgence has been fun to watch. Nevertheless, Copeland’s 2003 debut still holds a special place in my heart, making this re-pressing a chance to grab one of my all time favorite records. Let’s take a look.

Packaging and Presentation

The artwork for Beneath Medicine Tree has always been unique and beautiful. This pressing captures everything that made it so special. The sleeve opens to a gatefold, featuring hand drawn medical images over green-tinted hospital photography. A booklet inside the record has a thin overlay of the drawings that sits atop the glossy photos. Inside the booklet are song lyrics and liner notes.

The album is pressed on two 180-gram coke bottle clear records that look sharp and reflect the overall color scheme of the artwork. This particular variant was limited to 500 copies, but another pressing of 1,500 copies on clear vinyl with black smoke was also made. The records themselves feature the hand drawn images in the center. The only drawback here is that the records aren’t clearly marked – I had to look for a few minutes before finding side A. Regardless, the overall presentation here is stellar.

Sound and Quality.

As I mentioned earlier, I love this album. Thus, I was pleased at how spectacular it sounds on this pressing. The record captures the raw, indie rock feel of the original recordings, but the songs sound even bolder than I expected. From the opening pianos of “Brighter” to the crunchy guitars of “Walking Downtown”, each track sounds distinct, with each instrument shining through at different moments.

The bassline on “When Paula Sparks” sounds rich, and Aaron Marsh’s vocals sound beautiful. Part of what makes Beneath Medicine Tree so special to me is Marsh’s vocal work – not yet over-produced, but sounding honest and authentic. It sounds fantastic here, especially over the upbeat keyboard line on “She Changes Your Mind” and on the delicate moments during “California”.

Shop Radio Cast has come through again with this beautiful and wonderful sounding pressing of Beneath Medicine Tree. Now that Copeland’s catalogue has been completely re-pressed, fans have to feel great about having access to each record, especially when they were each handled so uniquely. Each album seems to have its own personality, which comes through in the packaging and presentation of these records. If you haven’t picked one up – there’s still time. You can get your copy here.

beneath_medicine_tree_vinyl

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.