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By : Steve B.

6 min read

My wife Aimee and I take regular pilgrimages to Feeding Tube Records in Florence, MA. Feeding Tube is a record label and store that sells its own releases and an expertly curated selection of weird gems. This spring, Aimee brought back Big Blood’s album Do You Wanna Have a Skeleton Dream? after hearing it on the iconic freeform radio station WFMU. Holy crap. Front to back, that album is one killer song after another. I listened to it nonstop for weeks and could not wait to pick up Big Blood’s new album First Aid Kit when Feeding Tube Records (and Ba Da Bing Records) released it in June.

Big Blood is a family band from South Portland, Maine. Caleb Mulkerin and Colleen Kinsella are joined by their daughter Quinnisa, who was only thirteen when they made First Aid Kit. They record exclusively in their home using a 1” eight-track tape, and they record in a way that every prior take is faintly present in the background, giving their albums a distinctive ephemeral/ghostly feel.

More so than past Big Blood albums, Quinnisa’s vocals steal the show. The subtlety, power, and tone show a talent well beyond her age. What is even more impressive is that her lyrics (which are clever, poignant, and fit perfectly with the music) are improvised during the recordings. The whole album has a raw, live, and genuine quality, like you are witnessing the moment of creation in their home with all its power, energy, and flaws.

Big Blood albums run the spectrum, and the band resists being pigeonholed into one genre/style, but First Aid Kit has the feel of early 80s dark English rock, but with more of a sparse, modern, lo-fi edge. What is amazing about First Aid Kit is how it simultaneously balances raw improvised energy, deep complexity that rewards repeated listens, and incredibly catchy hooks. These songs burrow into your ear and do not leave—the song “1000 Times'' could easily gain mass appeal.

Check out First Aid Kit on your preferred listening platform, and then take your own pilgrimage to Feeding Tube Records.

—Steve B.

Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #159 July 2023


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