10th Anniversary of Copeland’s ‘Beneath Medicine Tree'
Most people’s first taste of Copeland came with ‘Beneath Medicine Tree’s single, “Downtown.” It’s a song about young love with a punchy chorus that can be hard to forget. A perfect choice of song to introduce the band in 2003 when it was still a time of loud and fast guitars, pounding drums, generally ruled by pop/punk. 'Beneath Medicine Tree’ was different, opening with the soft and delicate song, “Brightest.” For a lot of kids, this was something they hadn’t really been exposed to before, unsure if they loved or hated it. It’s possible the album came out just as musical tides were shifting, or maybe it was ‘Beneath Medicine Tree’ that – even slightly – caused a shift in musical influence for a generation of then high school and college kids.
There’s a raw and innocent aspect to the songs on ‘Beneath Medicine Tree’ that only a debut album can produce. Jimmy Eat World’s ‘Clarity’ is another album with a similar spark and likeness that just drips magic. The impact of ‘Beneath Medicine Tree’ is hard to explain, but it sweeps you up and even though it’s not perfect, there aren’t any faults to be found. Lead singer, Aaron Marsh mentioned that Beneath Medicine Tree was an album he wanted to move people, 10 years later it still can.
Obvious from the album’s title, there’s an inherent sadness present throughout the songs, though nothing quite like ‘Eat, Sleep, Repeat’ which is the band’s 3rd release. ‘Beneath Medicine Tree’ was not a depressing sadness, but one of mourning wrapped in hope, surrounded by songs of optimism.
Matt Goldman, the record’s engineer, mentioned that “Love Is A Fast Song”, which appears on Copeland’s second album, ‘In Motion’, was originally the title track song for ‘Beneath Medicine Tree’. Scraped at the time because the song just wasn’t strong enough and ready, it became one of the stand out songs on their sophomore release.
Towards the end of Copeland, as the band was taking their final lap around the country, you could tell from the farewell tour that they were burnt out. Even though the band’s final album, ‘You Are My Sunshine’, was a refreshing release, it still didn’t have the enthusiasm and emotional spark that ‘Beneath Medicine Tree’ did. The type of spark that usually only comes around once.
From the jazzy beat of “Coffee,” to the hypnotic ending of “When Finally Set Free” or the slow burn of “California,” the album truly is a classic. And 10 years later it’s as strong as it was the day it came out.
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