Copyright Allan McKay 2022

After Allan photographed Frankie Morrow solo earlier this year and with her band just over a week ago at their debut EP launch (‘Blue Parrot Backpackers Hostel’), he was so enthusiastic about the band that we had to ask them to make a contribution to this year’s High Fives. In a truly democratic approach, each of the band has submitted a favourite song from 2022. You definitely need to keep an eye out for Frankie Morrow in 2023; go and see them live if you can.

NEEV (Keys/acoustic guitar)

Copyright Allan McKay 2022

Martha Hill – ‘Right Out My Head’

I’ve always really liked Martha Hill and the way she picks out vocal melodies that have so much movement and character around her arrangements. Loving this one in particular because the production is so dynamic but keeps a lovely group of acoustic guitars and vocals at its core. Big production inspo for me at the mo, and the lyrics are so intelligent too.

DUNCAN (Drums)

Copyright Allan McKay 2022

Black Midi – ‘Sugar/Tzu’ Black Midi has always been a band I can’t stay away from for long, and the track ‘Sugar/Tzu’ has totally gripped me. From the surreal nature of the instrumental, to the brutal dynamic shifts between sections, resulting in a song that blurs the lines between jazz and rock. Performances on this track are delivered with pure energy, speed and accuracy, an addictive combination that perfectly complements the intensity of the story being told. The song ‘Sugar/Tzu’, and Black Midi, have opened my eyes to a whole new world of music, fuelling me with inspiration to experiment moving forward.

JAMES (Bass)

Copyright Allan McKay 2022

Black Country, New Road – ‘Concorde’

I can’t remember who in FM recommended this band but I’m so glad they did. ‘Ants From Up There’ is one of my favourite albums at the moment, and it’s really difficult to pick a track but I really enjoy the songwriting, structure and production on ‘Concorde’. I love the dynamics of the song, how it feels like it keeps building and how they’ve been so careful in the production to find a brilliant balance of all the instruments and vocals. The masterpiece of this song is the lyrics though, they feel so personal and direct, yet you could take your own meaning away from them. My favourite line is “But I’ll know you’ll be there, the Sandman inside.”  

SAM (Guitar)

Copyright Allan McKay 2022

Julian Lage – ‘Auditorium’

On the several, glorious occasions on which I have had the fortune of hearing Julian Lage live, he has always been accompanied by the audible despair of every aspiring jazz guitarist in the room (myself included). When i first listened to his new record, ‘View from A Room’ (prod Margaret Glaspy), ‘Auditorium’ made me well up with teary joy – the gentle interplay from the legendary Bill Frisell joining his band, Dave King’s stirring momentum (also huge Bad Plus fan!) and Jorge Roeder’s loving groove all make for one of my favourite Julian Lage tracks of all time. I have always loved Jazz for highlighting chemistry of band members and this line up feels like it could be one for the books.

MAZ (Vocals/guitar)

Copyright Allan McKay 2022

Katy J Pearson – ‘The Hour’

I’ve been loving Katy J Pearson’s new record ‘Sound of the Morning’ and just recently saw her headline the Electric Ballroom with Neev a couple months back. It was brilliant! ‘Howl’ is an absolute tune – the brass, the hook – ‘Willow’s Song’ has a beautiful switch up thanks to drumming by Black Midi’s Morgan Simpson on it, but the standout track for me is ‘The Hour’. It’s a classic folk song – vocal and acoustic guitar, nothing more, nothing less – and it is so powerful. It sounds quite mediaeval actually. It has an eternal and haunting quality to it. We are in the process of writing our next set of tunes and it has really reminded me to come back to the bare bones of a song at its very core. Plus I loved learning the fact that the reason it was so stripped back was because she had fake nails on in the studio that day hahaha. Talk about making a virtue out of necessity!

And while we’re sharing videos, how about ‘White Rocks’ by Frankie Morrow: