Rock, February 2023

hfnalbum.pngRobert Coyne
The Hiss Of Life
Meyer CDMR247; LP: LPMR246

Singer-songwriter Kevin Coyne's bluesy, unflinchingly observational songs about society's outsiders earned him a following in the '70s. His son Robert's music is different, but just as original, particularly the mesmeric albums he made with ex-Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit. Here, with drummer Werner Steinhauser and cellist Aglaja Camphausen, the mood is more lyrical and relaxed, but with Coyne's insistent guitar lines to the fore and his pithy and pared down but engaging lyrics. 'It's hard to let a bad thing go… to let anything go', he sings on 'By Popular Demand' and voices poignant regrets on 'I Was Wrong All Along'. Bob Ward, who played with Coyne senior, adds some telling guitar embellishments. MB


Kitten Pyramid
FlipFlop FFR0103122022

Koozy!!, the last album by Kitten Pyramid conveyed a kind of dark whimsicality and Kiddo is musically adventurous and welcoming: 'BBC', is a droll pop confection constructed from hoary old rock riffs and the single, 'Jalapenos', was voted July's track of the month in Classic Rock. But Scott Milligan's vegetarianism is a serious matter. On 'Gobble Gobble', chirpy keyboard lines and chanted vocals segue into muscular guitar riffing, but it was unsurprisingly not released as a Christmas single, while 'Animals' describes an abbatoir scene as if the pigs were humans. It's a chilling tale and while Milligan avoids preaching, omnivores may experience dyspepsia. MB


Unkle Bob
Highpony Highpony001 (CD and LP)

The 2020 single 'Safety Net' heralded the cult Glasgow quintet's first album in six years and its atmosphere of lovelorn longing is typical of Invisible, with electric piano, overdriven guitars and vocal harmonies purveying a mix of melancholy, melody and reined-in rock power. 'This winter is the coldest that I can remember' sings Rick Webster on 'Before We Turned The World', its chilly, tolling piano and bittersweet vocal lines warmed by big guitar chords. Unkle Bob have been compared to Radiohead and REM and there's a hint of the latter on 'The Girl Who Stole The Boy From Scotland', sung by Chloe Peacock over acoustic guitars. MB

Josephine Oniyama
Sound Of Solar SOSRCD005

Kindred has a modern, spacious production sound, but there's a timelessness about The Mancunian singer's approach with her acoustic guitar combining with electronics and synthetic strings. She's influenced by Grace Jones, Alison Krauss, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan, describes herself as folk-soul-indie-pop and has collaborated with Travis, but with her rich voice and finely wrought songs, she feels closest stylistically to Joan Armatrading. Oniyama is an incisive lyricist and on Kindred she too explores themes of love and affection, from the sage advice of 'Act Like You're In Love' to the poignant piano ballad 'Sanctuary' and the life-affirming title track. MB