Baleen – Follow Me Blind (CD)

Baleen is a hard band to follow during the first track of their “Follow Me Blind”, which to be honest really has an opening style not quite unlike the early-nineties gospel-rock tracks that are still played often on Christian music stations. The stop-start sound present on “Magnifico (The Mule)” really puts Baleen in the nexus between a number of different styles, as diverse as Jazz and college-rock. The multiple-vocals that play such a large part during “List” mixes well with the Radiohead-influenced (think “Paranoid Android”) guitar riffs. “List” really has a full, lengthy sound that really belies its three and a half minute runtime; this is due to thediverse sections of the track that really cover as much ground as some tracks (like Guns ‘N’ Roses “Estranged”.

Similarly, “Sold” really matches up with “List” in quality, but has Baleen taker a Fischerspponer/Postal Service approach to this track, which is to say is an electrified look at indie rock. Moving into a style that allows them to rock out a little harder (a mix of Queens of the Stone Age and The Mars Volta) for “Unmedicated”, it is not about any sonic fury that the band creates as much as the intense, nuanced feel of the track. The density of “Unmedicated” is such that the band works in tandem while each member is trying their hardest to come up with difficult and fulfilling lines. Each following track on “Follow Me Blind” gives Baleen another weapon to use in their arsenal; for example, Baleen become the masters of dynamic tension as it builds up throughout “6:30 AM’s” near-six minute runtime, sputtering to silence soon after.

The horn present on “Back In 15 Min” may just be the perfect tie to the title; with its smooth jazz implications, the sound of the horn is similar to that which one hears when they are put on hold”. Fifty-five minutes is a long run-time for discs which still largely stick to the forty minute limits that were present on vinyl, but Baleen handle this extended length gracefully, continually shifting their sound to make sure that individuals will not get bored or tired of the music issuing forth. The experience that Baleen has – founded in 1998 really is the reason that “Follow Me Blind” is such a success. The band knows how to work together and come up with an album that will affect the most people while not falling into any ruts.

Top Tracks: Take A Number, List

Rating: 6.1/10

Baleen – Follow Me Blind / 2005 Liquilab / 13 Tracks / http://www.baleen.net / Reviewed 14 September 2005

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