Union Representation

Last heard American oddball group Big Blood in 2016 with their Ant Farm record, made with avant-garde jazz hero Elliott Schwartz. As that one was mostly a set of unusual sound-art and noise organised around a conceptual theme, it might turn out to be atypical of this band’s work, especially if today’s item The Daughters Union (FEEDING TUBE RECORDS FTR459) is anything to go by. It’s all songs, delivered in a very upbeat and upfront style by the two girl singers and delivered with powerful, punchy instrumental backdrops, heavy on the basic drumming and guitars…

Big Blood are a true “family” band I think, comprising Colleen Kinsella and Caleb Mulkerin…for a time it was part of their shtick to pretend they were a quartet, but this is now gradually coming true as it seems their daughter Quinnisa has now actually joined the band (she may even be the second vocalist). The Daughters Union originally came out on CDR on their own label Don’t Trust The Ruin in 2017, now rescued and given the vinyl treatment by Feeding Tube Records. The nine songs here are served up with a real confidence and swagger that I found almost bombastic at first, but by the time of side two I was getting into the swing of the party and also found the strongest cuts are lurking on this B-side. Byron’s sleeve notes invoke glam-rock as the general template here, and it’s true that half the time the band sound like they wish they had Tony Visconti behind the controls, and at least one song, ‘All Is Clear’, is a Marc Bolan soundalike pastiche which they’ve almost got down to a science. And when it’s not Visconti, it’s the twin drumkits of those Mike Leander-produced records for the Glitter Band.

But Big Blood have a lot of originality flowing through these veins, and stand-outs include ‘Stars Sewn into the Skies’, where Colleen shines with a supremely confident delivery allied to a gorgeously poignant melody, all performed to a deliciously sad lilting rhythm; and ‘On & On’, a song which manages to tromp heavily on stony ground and yet do it with grace and simplicity, emerging as both an anthem and a protest folk tune. This tune in particular could almost be an out-take from Physical Graffiti; I can well imagine John Paul Jones getting his claws around that guitar riff with his mandolin. If further evidence needed of Big Blood’s eclecticism, may I point out they also cover songs by The Troggs (‘Our Love Will Still Be There’) and Silver Apples (‘I Have Found Love’), the latter tune completely eschewing any hint of electronics or Simeon-imitation japes, and instead emphasising that song’s gorgeous melody, its implacable lyric, and its unstoppable circular beat. A real grower. From 27th August 2019.