Copeland’s “Ixora” Offers Mellow Indie Rock

30 Jan

Copeland is a band that was started in 2001 by singer/songwriter Aaron Marsh — an accomplished musician who also plays piano and guitar. Between 2003 and 2008, the band released four studio albums — including one on mainstream label, Columbia Records. In doing so, Copeland built quite a following, with its 2008 album, You Are My Sunshine, peaking in the Top 50 in the U.S.

Then, the band announced that they would be taking an indefinite hiatus. Life was changing for the band members. Fans wondered whether Copeland would ever reunite.

The answer is “yes.” And the result is Ixora, a mellow, indie rock/emo album with lyrics that reflect a more mature, introspective Marsh. On the info sheet issued by the label, Marsh says it best himself. “My life is drastically different as a 34-year-old dude married with two kids than it was as a homeless band dude with a lot of young-person drama,” he explains.

The tunes on Ixora are vocally driven, supported with piano, strings, flute (or flute-like synth), occasionally brass, and rhythm. A few songs will surprise you with a funkier beat or a saxophone solo — but most are ideal for chilling or playing in the background while getting work done, paying the bills or reading.

Album opener “Have I Always Loved You?” is the best track on the CD. It’s airy and beautiful, with delicately fingerpicked guitar and quavering vocals, with Marsh’s breathy falsetto in places.

“Disjointed” follows, starting with shimmering, bell-like synths. Melodic piano, backed with an intriguing rhythm track, draws you into the lyrics of this excellent love song.

Track 4, “Erase,” teases like it’s going to be a traditional piano ballad, with emotive vocals. But strings and synths (I think), create a tension underscoring some amazing lyrics such as, “You’re still the breeze upon my skin/Close my eyes/Breathe you in.” This then triggers a bigger sound that is more anthem-like. A truly great song!

“Chiromancer” reminds me of a San Francisco artist I really like — Jesse Cafiero, who performs as Split Screens. The song starts softly, as most on this album do, but then shifts to a glitchy, syncopated beat. Marsh is joined by guest artist, Steff Koeppen — who plays in the Arizona band, Steff and the Articles — and their male/female handoffs and harmonizing are fabulous.

If you’re looking for mellow indie rock that provides enough variety to keep you from dozing off, give Ixora by Copeland a listen. And in case you’re wondering, Ixora is a tropical flower that’s found in the band’s native Florida. So now you know.

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