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The best kept secret in music


"Aiding and Abetting, Issue #226"


Apparently, Baleen's idea of a normal life is a diverse one. The band refuses to stick to any one style, instead flinging itself headfirst into electronic, pop, rock and vaguely jazzy sounds. When you've got full-time keyboard and sax men, that sorta thing probably comes naturally.

What is consistent is the way that the members play off each other. There's a synergy here, a real band feel that is often missing in true collaborations. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but often "playing together" means compromise. With Baleen, all of its members are focused on the same goal, and that tight gaze keeps the songs aimed in the right direction.

This is an astonishingly crafted album. As the notes say, "all songs written performed recorded lost re-recorded looped cut pasted and finally mixed by baleen." Indeed. I've got a practiced ear for this sort of collage creation, and I can barely hear the edits. The work is top-notch, retaining a forceful live sound.

With so much going on at once, it would have been easy for Baleen to allow its songs to degenerate into a mess of competing ideas. Instead, all those thoughts coalesce into a solid volume. You haven't heard anything quite like Baleen. And once you hear it, you'll wish you could hear so much more.

- Jon Worley

"Phase 9 Entertainment, 03/02/02"


Once in a while a group will come along who, instead of limiting themselves by making a perfect album’s worth of four minute songs, will push the boundaries out and produce an album where the songs will take you on an uncharted journey. This is the essence to Baleen’s second release, SOUNDTRACK TO A NORMAL LIFE where this modern Electronica album sounds more like a compilation album rather than an album recorded by the one group.

Kicking the album off with the jungle sounding intro WAITING it then follows into SWEETSPOT, which is at best a rock tune with a haunting keyboard hook line reminiscent of something taken from a French movies from the 60’s. ASSISTANCE, an instrumental, is the equivalent of a bad dream filled with funky electronic beeps, a lonely sounding piano and a wailing guitar. While UNMEDICATED might sound a bit like Radiohead, UNPAID PORN STAR is as sleazy as the title suggests with a spoken tale about a willing porn star, musically backed with a relentless rock beat. MOONLIGHT using the famous piano piece by Ludwig Van Beethoven is enhanced with some extra atmospheric sound effects while the jazzy MUTED changes the mood of the record yet again. I DON’T LIKE TO DIE IN THIS BEAUTIFUL WORLD, another instrumental in three parts, showcases what Baleen are capable of with the track’s fusion of Middle Eastern sounds with a jazzy sax building to a cinematic climax before then breaking down into an ambient jungle finish.

This is one of those albums you will either love for its diversity or hate because it requires a few listens to get into. With a mainstream group like Radiohead already proving that you can break the rules with an audience willing to listen to this sort of product, Baleen have already proved that they are not just a studio band and can perform these tracks to a blistering live set that impresses.

"Additional Press"

“Charlotte’s most noteworthy rock or soul bands, such as baleen...pack clubs as if they have had national releases.”
Supastition, CMJ New
Music Monthly, December 2002

“With soundtrack to a normal life, baleen tackles several serious challenges and meets them all.”
Arthur Shuey, Outrider, April,

“baleen have already proved that they are not just a studio band and can perform these tracks to a blistering live set that impresses.”
EDF,Phase 9, March 2002

“...if soundtrack is any indication, their future should be very bright indeed. It’s an album full of inspired surprises and virtuosity unmatched by anything you’re likely to hear on a major label release these days.”
Sound of, May 2002

“There are so many elements in the mix: R&B, rock, electronic, jazz, beats -and all of it brought together by a unifying and dominating experimental spirit. There are so few notable bands that bend genres this way, and those that do play downtown NYC clubs like Tonic & Knitting Factory. baleen is from a little further downtown - Charlotte, NC.” Bob Weyersberg,
Triage International, February 2002
- Various


Soundtrack to a Normal Life-16 Songs (originals)-released 2001

Personality Plus-10 Songs (originals)-released 1999

For additional information on baleen or to purchase a CD, please visit or


Feeling a bit camera shy


Baleen melds rock, R&B, ambient soundscapes and electronics into a genre all their own, boldly expressing a diversity that is as refreshing as it is amazing.

Baleen began as an instrumental group in Chapel Hill, NC in 1999. In 2000, the founding members, Mike Vagianos (guitars/vocals) and Phil Disher (drums/sounds), made the move to Charlotte, NC. There they added three of Charlotte's best musicians, Derrick Hines(keyboards/samples/vocals), Steve McMillan (bass), and Tony McCullough (horns/vocals) to the lineup and the band began writing and recording new material. In November 2001, Baleen released their latest effort, Soundtrack to a Normal Life.

“This is an astonishingly crafted album...You haven't heard anything quite like baleen. And once you hear it, you'll wish you could hear so much more.” Jon Worley, Aiding and Abetting Issue #226 - February 2002.

Baleen engages crowds with surprises and sophistication, pulling off complicated songs with grace and intensity. In April of 2002, Baleen was selected to showcase for music industry representatives at the NEMO Music Showcase and Conference in Boston, MA and spent the year touring the southeast with great success. Recently, the band was selected to be included on the compilation disc entitled Bands Across America (Downline Records) set to be released in Spring of 2003.


*LiquiLab Records distributed 1500
Petri Discs (samplers) in May
2002 and received 80,000 hits on The disc was distributed
to over 40 countries.

*Baleen was selected to Showcase at
NEMO, Boston, MA - April 13, 2002

*College Radio Campaign began with
Triage Music International in late
March 2002. Baleen reached #1 at
several college radio stations.

*Baleen has toured the Southeast
with great success, opening for such notable acts as Jazz Mandolin Project and DJ Vadim.


*Bands Across America, 2003
(Downline Records, Chicago, IL)

*Owasso Night Atlas, 2001
(Infrasound Records, Nashville,

*Charlotte Sometimes, 2000
(10mm Omega, Charlotte, NC)