Reflecting On: Copeland – You Are My Sunshine

I’m a firm believer in the connection between our personal journeys and how that plays into the music that we hold dear. When I became obsessed with Copeland’s You Are My Sunshine, I was in the midst of what remains to be the worst, and one of best, times in my life.

I’ve only briefly touched on this several times, but I suppose it’s time to lay out the whole story about my grandmother, Linda. Anyone who met her immediately loved her. She was the kindest, most thoughtful human I’ve ever met, and still no one compares to the way she always knew just what was needed to turn a bad day around. From cookies to a movie night, she was always the perfect diversion from what reality threw at me.

You can buy or stream You Are My Sunshine on Apple Music.

I was only 17 when she passed away from cancer, and even though everything feels like a big deal at 17, facing things without her these past few years have only made the bad seem worse. She always knew how to look on the bright side, which is something I’m really bad at doing. One of her favorite songs was “You Are My Sunshine”. She used to sing it to her kids (my mom and her brother) when they were young, and then to my siblings and I when we were younger.

Now that you’ve met Linda and, I’m sure, already wish you had known her, let’s talk about Copeland’s album of the same name as that 1939 Jimmie Davis hit. The album, for me, jumps back and forth, uncannily telling the story of my 2015: the year my grandmother died and the year I met the man I married three years later. It was the year I watched my family fall apart, but it was the year I saw them stand back up, stronger than ever.

The album begins with “Should You Return” and the lines that pertain here are, “But now there’s nothing left to do but waste my time / I never knew where to move on / I never knew what to rely upon”. Cancer takes such an emotional toll but it also takes a toll on time. The nights my mom would be at the hospital, it was up to me and the rest of my family members to keep the house running, to keep some semblance of order. Once my grandmother passed, my mom was back again, so I had more time on my hands. The extra time, though, wasn’t a blessing. It was used as a grief outlet.

“The Grey Man”, under normal circumstances, is just another song about a breakup. But for me, the song turned into both a ray of hope – “You’re gonna run right back to her arms” – and part of the realization that she was actually not going to come back.

The third track on this album, “Chin Up”, may be my favorite song Copeland has ever written (a close second is “In Her Arms You Will Never Starve” from Ixora). My mom leaned heavily on us during the time the cancer took to run its course. I feel like I bore a lot of the weight because I’m the oldest child, but maybe I’m just being narrowminded. Anyway, “You’d break your neck / To keep your chin up” felt so real then. My mom and I are ridiculously similar, and we deal with our feelings the same way – we don’t. We’re not fans of pity parties being thrown in our honor. I felt like I had to be strong enough so my mom felt comfortable leaning on me if she needed to. That feeling kind of stuck around though, even to this day, even when it’s not necessary.

“Good Morning Fire Eater” is kind of an aftermath song for me. ”The day is done and everyone’s gone now / You can taste every fire and hold every song”. I graduated high school shortly after my grandmother passed. So this song is kind of a sigh of relief, now that she wasn’t suffering anymore. And I held onto the idea that everyone has after high school: the world was my oyster.

We all know the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. If I’m continuing this track of being honest, I’m still having trouble with the acceptance part. But I had no trouble with the depression. “To Be Happy Now” is the best expression of that depression I’ve found up until Paramore released “Rose-Colored Boy”.

So let’s bring the mood up a little toward positivity. I was talking to a guy and he had really helped me through some of the tougher stuff I was having to deal with. My grandmother passed in June. By that point, Jeremiah was asking when I’d be his girlfriend and I told him we’d talk about it when I turned 18. I turned 18 in August and by September 2nd, we were together. The next two tracks on the album, “The Day I Lost My Voice (The Suitcase Song)” and “On the Safest Ledge”, respectively, provide two outlooks on this new relationship I was fostering: one of severe skepticism as I was no stranger to how quickly things can be taken, and the second, which was jumping headfirst.

“Not Allowed” is a jump back into grief and a different perspective of how I dealt with it. I felt that I needed so badly to be strong for the rest of my family that I pushed all of my feelings aside and just kind of forgot how to be upset about the loss we had all just experienced. It wasn’t some righteous quest to be the best griever. I just chose numbness as my coping mechanism. Disclaimer: Don’t do that. “Strange and Unprepared” follows that same theme: “And you never feel good or bad / Just strange and unprepared”.

In 2015, I had a whole array of feelings to choose from, and most of them were new. I’d been sad before, but not in this way, not in the way of “maybe I’ll never smile for real again.” I’d liked people before, but not in the way I had fallen head over heels for Jeremiah. So “What Do I Know” was kind of a pep talk. I was really in uncharted emotional territory, and I was trying my hardest to stay grounded.

The album closes with “Not So Tough Found Out”. That’s the song that brings me to today, to right now. I’m not as tough as I’ve always seen myself, and I’m learning to be okay with that. How can one year bring about so much change? I ask myself that a lot. I guess one way to describe it is when you get the star power-up in Mario Kart. Everything speeds up around you and suddenly you’re one lap away from the finish line instead of two. You’re not concerned with what happens in the meantime, but, watching the playback, you see that you knocked Yoshi off the track and he ended up in eighth place.

Looking back on 2015 still hurts and still thrills, kind of like Copeland’s You Are My Sunshine. It gets so low, but then Aaron Marsh sings lines like “Could you be happy / To fall like a stone / If you’d land right here safe in my arms”, and I’m reminded of the guy who was able to bring me out of my grief, and the fact that when I get home tonight, he’ll be asleep on the couch because he tried to wait up for me to make sure I got home safely.

Maybe I’ve learned more about looking on the bright side because I don’t have my grandmother there to do it for me anymore. All I have is her example and the need to make her proud. I know I’m not going to do it perfectly, but I’m trying, and I think that’s what counts.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Copeland: Cracking Nostalgia in Chicago

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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.

 

Copeland and Eisley to Embark on Fall Tour

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After a few days of teasing, Copeland has revealed an upcoming fall tour with support from Eisley and We Are the City. There are currently VIP packages that will get you into a private acoustic show at your date. One VIP option also includes the Ixora twin companion record on vinyl. You can see all of the options at the band’s website.

Dates below:

Nov. 05 – Nashville, TN – Cannery Ballroom
Nov. 06 – Carrborro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
Nov. 07 – Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
Nov. 08 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
Nov. 10 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
Nov. 12 – Boston, MA – The Sinclair
Nov. 13 – Pittsburgh, PA – Altar Bar
Nov. 14 – Pontiac, MI – Crofoot
Nov. 15 – Chicago, IL – The Metro
Nov. 17 – Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theatre
Nov. 18 – Des Moines, IA – Woolys
Nov. 20 – Billings, MT – Pub Station
Nov. 21 – Missoula, MT – Stage 112
Nov. 22 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
Nov. 24 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
Nov. 25 – Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour
Nov. 27 – San Diego, CA – The Irenic
Nov. 28 – Pomona, CA – Glass House
Nov. 29 – Tucson, AZ – Club Xs
Dec. 01 – Dallas, TX – Trees
Dec. 02 – Austin, TX – Mohawk
Dec. 03 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
Dec. 04 – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues
Dec. 05 – Atlanta, GA – The Loft
Dec. 06 – Orlando, FL – The Social

Posted by Kiel Hauck

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.

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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.

Vinyl Spotlight: Copeland – Ixora

ixora

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.

Copeland fans have had a lot to crow about since last April’s announcement that the band was reuniting to release their fifth full-length album. On the day of the news, thousands of Copeland fans rushed to preorder vinyl copies of Ixora with the promise that the record would be ready by the fall. While the album was released on time, the vinyl copies were held up due to a manufacturing error that required a complete repressing.

At the end of January, good news finally came – the vinyl copies were ready and would begin shipping immediately. Now that we have them in hand, the question is, was it worth the wait? Let’s take a look.

Packaging and Presentation

As with most Copeland releases, the album artwork is gorgeous. The simple shots of ocean were taken by Anberlin’s Nate Young, and they’re quite peaceful – much like the album itself. This release is a gatefold with an insert, which serves as the inner sleeve. The record opens into a view of more ocean with some liner notes and a superimposed ixora flower. Overall, the package is lightweight and easy to handle. The inner record sleeve features song lyrics in the album title font.

A few options of color were given for this pressing: 3,000 white, 3,000 black and 300 blue with white splatter. I received a blue copy, and the vinyl itself is quite pretty. While this particular color isn’t 180 gram, it does have a wonderful white starburst effect on the soft blue record. In short, it’s fun to look at and matches up with the album artwork quite nicely. There’s no download card – a digital download of the album was sent upon Ixora’s release.

Sound and Quality 

The manufacturing defect reportedly had to due with the pressing’s sound quality and left the band unwilling to ship it to their fans. There have been a few reports of minor scratches or even high-pitched background noise on certain variants of this pressing, but I’m pleased to report that I was unable to detect a defect on my copy. In fact, the album plays extremely smooth – I found the sound to be more full and rich on this pressing than I had experienced via the mp3 files.

The bass surprised me the most. While I hadn’t noticed it as much when streaming the album, it sounds deep here and melts into the overall mix. I first noticed this on the quiet and gentle “I Can Make You Feel Young Again” – a song that takes full advantage of Aaron Marsh’s otherworldy vocals and blends them against a backdrop of keys, soft guitar tones and a rich bassline. Because each track on this album is so unique, it’s exciting to hear how each presents itself on this vinyl release.

I was already a huge fan of Ixora, but hearing it on vinyl has captured me even more. This band can do no wrong, and even with a lengthy delay, Ixora is a must-own vinyl release for Copeland fans. I own each Copeland record released thus far, and I have to say that this is my favorite pressing in terms of sound, with 2013’s Eat, Sleep, Repeat pressing coming in a close second.

Last year saw re-presses of You Are My Sunshine and In Motion and this spring will bring the re-pressing of Beneath Medicine Tree (of which there are still a few preorder copies available). Ixora is sold out for now, but if you run across a copy, don’t hesitate to snatch it up.

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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.

Review: Copeland – Ixora

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If absence makes the heart grow fonder, fans of Lakeland, Florida, indie rock act Copeland should be quite affectionate by now. The band bid us all farewell in 2010 after the release of You Are My Sunshine, seeming content to fade into our collective memory. Although goodbyes are never easy, the band left four classic records in their wake, which is more than many of the scene’s departed can claim.

Then came this April’s shocking announcement – Copeland was returning, and not just for a trendy reunion tour. The band was hitting the studio to craft their fifth full length album, produced by lead singer Aaron Marsh. Much rejoicing commenced.

One lingering question persisted, though: What if the album wasn’t very good? It’s not often that fans get this sort of second chance from their favorite band. Could Copeland tarnish their legacy by releasing something sub-par? Was it possible for expectations to be too high?

Rest assured – Copeland’s fifth album, Ixora, is everything you want a Copeland album to be. And while it’s not their greatest album, it’s a very welcome addition to the band’s catalogue.

For Ixora, the whole band is back together and they never stray too far from the beaten path. The album feels like an extension of both You Are My Sunshine and Eat, Sleep, Repeat – the band’s final two albums. Marsh’s production is ever present, drawing on tricks learned during previous sessions in which he manned the boards, such as those with Anchor & Braille.

Ixora is delicate and often whimsical. Opening track “Have I Always Loved You?” feels like so many of the lullaby-ish Copeland numbers, backed by a peaceful acoustic guitar. “Disjointed” slightly picks up the pace, driven by its tinkling keyboards and strings. The song’s climax appears just before the final chorus as the keys drop out and Marsh’s falsetto takes the reigns, “And now I feel the current / Pull me up, take me under / Rush over again”.

So much of Copeland’s appeal has always been wrapped up in the otherworldly vocals of Marsh, who has a knack for capturing a moment. His graceful flair comes in small doses on this record, as he regularly practices restraint. In truth, it makes those flashes of brilliance even more special. Take “Erase”, a soft track that floats along for nearly two and a half minutes before the drums kick in and Marsh takes the song over the top with his repeated refrain of, “You won’t erase me”.

The band’s use of electronics, which became a staple on their later releases, is in full effect on songs like “Lavender” and the smooth and jazzy “Like a Lie”. Marsh shares vocal duties with Steff Koeppen on the extremely familiar sounding “Chiromancer”, which may be the biggest treat for fans of the band’s early work.

“Ordinary” is signature Copeland, as well, with it’s simple piano line and Marsh’s ability to turn the most mundane of lyrics into something special. He opens the song with, “Today was fine / I woke up late like I always do / Made work just in the nick of time / And thought of you”. Over the years, Marsh has been known for describing the deep truths of love and romance by focusing on the ordinary – those things we take for granted or overlook. No more clearer is that presentation than here.

The band took no real chances on Ixora, instead adding the quirks and bits that made each of their past works unique and combining them into something fitting for the band’s return. Ixora isn’t as urgent as In Motion or as dreamy as Eat, Sleep, Repeat. It’s not a departure, but it isn’t a carbon copy of any single album, either. Instead, it’s something uniquely Copeland.

Most fans will never get the satisfaction of seeing their favorite band rise from the ashes with brand new material. By and large, it’s likely better this way. With such a return comes great expectations and high stakes that could result in a dent to any given band’s legacy. With Ixora, Copeland has avoided such a misstep and has delivered another worthy album. To call it luck would be foolish. Heart seems much more appropriate.

4/5

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.

Copeland streams new song “Disjointed”

copelandIt’s official: Copeland will release their new album Ixora on November 24 via Tooth and Nail Records. If you preordered the album, you’ll receive a digital copy on November 14. Ixora is Copeland’s first release since 2008’s You Are My Sunshine, which was also released on Tooth and Nail. The band has also released a new song from the album, titled “Disjointed”, which can be heard below:

If you haven’t already, you can preorder Ixora at the band’s website.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Copeland reunite, plan to release “Ixora” on October 31

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Nope, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. Florida indie rock act Copeland is back together again after disbanding in 2010. The band plans to record and release a new album titled Ixora on October 31 – it will be their fifth full-length release and a follow-up to 2008’s You Are My Sunshine. Check a statement from the band and a video of the new song below:

“For the first time in our career, we are making a record as an independent band. These pre-orders are essentially funding the project. The encouraging messages and requests for a new album never stopped after our farewell tour in 2010. We are extremely honored by this and hope you love what we create.
Thank you in advance for your continued support.”

– Aaron, Bryan, Jonathan, Stephen

You can preorder the album in a number of different bundles at the band’s website.

Are you excited about new Copeland music? What’s your favorite release of the band? Let us know in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck