Copeland rises from Beneath

Copeland – 1: n. Aaron Copeland (1900-1990), 20th century American composer famous for “Appalachian Spring”; 2: n. a band capable of generating a buzz shortly after its full-length debut.

The Lakeland-based quartet comes to Orpheum on Sunday looking to spread the soothing indie rock for which it is famous.

With their roots in punk music, the members of Copeland set out to create a sound more beautiful than their previous projects. What resulted was described by singer Aaron Marsh as “ambient indie rock,” yielding a split EP and full-length album in two years time.

Wishing for a fresh start, Copeland relocated to Georgia and recorded its contribution to a split EP with the band Pacifico in 2001.

After touring the East Coast in support of the release, Copeland caught the attention of a few Militia Group Record Company representatives.

The full-length debut, Beneath the Medicine Tree, was released on an Anaheim-based record label, Militia Group, earlier this year.

Bouncing from the mellow “Priceless” and “When Finally Set Free” to the more energetic “Walking Downtown,” Beneath encompasses the band’s ability to solidly embrace a range of tempos.

Copeland also undertakes the lost art of vocal harmonizing, performing it with ease.

While writing the album, Marsh went through tense times; his girlfriend battled Lupus disease and his grandmother had recently died.

Consequently, the album expresses strong feelings of seclusion and longing, optimism and hope.

On “Testing the Strong Ones,” Marsh reveals “There’s an angel by your hospital bed/Desperate to hear his name on your breath . . . Open your eyes and look at me/ I’ll bring you whatever you need.” On “California” Marsh sings of the distance between him and his girlfriend, who was receiving medical treatment on the West Coast.

The song comes to an emotional explosion and Marsh sings, “Now you’re gone and I’m afraid that you’re never coming back this way again.”

The CD booklet also carries the album’s theme with pictures of hospital rooms.

All photos were taken by bassist James Likeness at Tampa General Hospital, certainly bringing a personal aspect to all areas of the band’s work.

With a record inspired by sickness and death and album art comprised of cold hospital images, one would expect a rather somber tone to Copeland’s music.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Beneath keeps an optimistic view amidst troubled times.

The final track “When Finally Set Free,” emphasizes the album’s intrinsic positive outlook when Marsh sings, “Let the pain burn away from our hearts/ We have time to start all over again.”

Packing up and starting again worked very well for the members of this band.

The move to Georgia and the reinvention of their previous sounds enabled the members to step into the indie rock arena. Copeland will fill Orpheum with a kicking, yet soothing performance.

The combination of the ambient music, comforting vocals and underlying messages of hope will make listeners want to find their significant other and hold on … tight.