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MD Discovery: Bailen Walk Tightrope Between Indie & Folk

Truly a family affair, New York City alternative outfit Bailen didn’t have to look very far for their namesake. Consisting of fraternal twins David and Daniel Bailen alongside their younger sister Julia, each of the band member’s contributions are easily discovered. Often employing group harmonies on their indie folk output, they’ve churned out solid output since gaining initial steam in 2019. Here’s everything you need to know about NYC’s own Bailen.

Homegrown Roots for the Bailen Trio

Given the family nature of the band, it won’t shock you to hear that they grew up in a musical household. Raised by two professional musicians, the three siblings experienced early and often the concept of making music as a full-time gig. And it didn’t take long into their adult lives for them to adopt that idea themselves. Not too long after staking out on that endeavor, they began picking up traction, with their 2019 single “I Was Wrong” being the biggest catalyst behind that. Initially spotlighted around the Internet as an indie scene sleeper, it gained momentum in the mainstream as well, leading to a Billboard interview and a full-on performance on The Today Show.

The charm of that song in particular is pretty self-evident. Twanging guitars and organic drum rhythms lean into the earthy sound that the group majored in early in their careers, but the tenor that all three of them hit in their doubled and sometimes tripled melodies lend a certifiably Brooklyn indie lean to keep things interesting. And lyrically, they showed they weren’t slouches either, like in the opening verse where they paint the picture of “The red flag waving in the light of day / And they won’t take it down / Nothing’s gonna change ’til we all can say / I believe that I was wrong, I was wrong all along.”

Taken from @bailentheband on Instagram.

The Band’s Next Steps After Breaking Out

Much of their debut album stayed in the same territory established by “I Was Wrong.” But in the time that followed, Bailen took something of a hiatus, no doubt brought on by the pandemic bringing live events to a halt. Earlier this year, they released their follow-up effort, Tired Hearts, which showcased a slightly new direction. While there are still a few choice moments in the tracklist where all three of them combine on the mic, the album is predominately made up of songs where one of the siblings dominates vocally.

That leads to some heartrending ballads like “Shadows,” a backward-facing love song about what could have been. It also leads to some uptempo cuts in equal measure. “Nothing Left To Give” puts Julia on full display, and though its emotional center comes from a similarly dark place (“Gotta keep from burning out before I hit my stride / Ride it out, it’s all a matter of time / It’s just a laundry list of little pills that I have tried”), it changes form at the midpoint into one of the funkier jams the band has produced.

Maybe it’s the unorthodox band composition of Bailen that makes you give them a listen, or maybe their earlier singles are enough to grab your ear. But in their catalog, there’s much more than meets the eye, a true testament to just how much ground you can cover in a short amount of time. Bailen is currently gearing up for a tour starting in early 2024, so head to their official website for information on when they’ll be in your area.

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