Monday, May 31, 2010

Case File #36: "California"

Beneath Medicine Tree

The need to know:  Formed in Lakeland, Florida in 2001, Copeland found some success as an indie rock band throughout the early aughts, touring frequently and releasing their first two full-length records via small time indie label The Militia Group. In 2006, as record labels scrambled to find the next Fall Out Boy, Copeland announced that they had been signed to the majors with a slot on Columbia's roster, but that relationship proved to be short lived. After losing bassist and founding member James Likeness in 2007, the band released a b-sides compilation and their final album, You Are My Sunshine, in 2008 via Tooth & Nail, before calling it quits in 2010.

Why it's worthy: "California" is the story of boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, girl moves as far away as one can possibly go and not leave the continental United States. Sure, the story is about as emo as you can get, but this song is hardly typcial of the genre. Far from being Fall Out Boy or Get Up Kids clones, Copeland's debut, which was primarily inspired by singer Aaron Marsh's girlfriend's battle with cancer, was filled to the brim with beautiful power pop that nudged sweetness about as far as it could go without turning saccharine. "California" is no exception. Perhaps the band's best and most loved song, what makes it truly obsess-worthy isn't the lyrical honesty, or Marsh's lithesome vocals: It's the guitar solo that closes out the song. For the final two minutes, the band explodes into a burst of incendiary guitar passion that failed to be matched on any of the group's subsequent albums (or songs).

Quotable lyric: "I miss the way you sing low/ So I can't hear your voice over the radio in my car"

Where you've heard it:  Copeland found a bit of notoriety, albeit brief, when they hijacked Fall Out Boy's viral marketing scheme for their album Folie à Deux in 2008, leading to many angry FOB fans...and not much else.

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