Firsts Weekly featuring Big Softy, Avalyn, Arya Zappa and more.

Words: Karl Johnson

Big Softy
‘Support Song’

Leeds duo Big Softy arrive brimming with confidence on new single ‘Support Song’, it follows on from two superb releases in the last year. The track is based around wobbling electronic textures and a disco-feel beat, melding a Baxter Dury smoothness with the euphoric vocal workings of LCD Soundsystem. Between the shuddering multi-faceted synths and ridiculously addictive bass groove, Big Softy are incredible songwriters, bringing soaring choruses and mind-quaking instrumental breakdowns. Dig deep beneath the layered instrumentals and subtle funk elements to find lyricism that explores broken hearts, emotional recovery through music and a cathartic pop song that allows you to escape your everyday routine.

‘When We Were Nothing’

The creation of exciting new strands of shoegaze music hasn’t halted since the genre dominated the covers of NME and co from the mid 80s to early 90s, soon to be displaced commercially by Britpop – but culturally shoegaze has the genre ever lost its stranglehold on the underground? With the likes of Sonic Cathedral signees bdrmm finding some mainstream success in the last few years, there’s no reason why the dark-hearted, raucous and anthemic sound of Avalyn can’t find its own route in spearheading a group of dreamy new acts (shout out to Lemondaze, you guys should tour together).

Arya Zappa
‘Kiss Me Awake’

From the opening jangles of guitar and chugging bass groove, ‘Kiss Me Awake’ by Arya Zappa sets the scene of something truly cinematic. The Berlin-based artist works in a psychedelic realm, the vocal delivery hangs in the mix effortlessly as though suspended on strings, each word is punctuated and affecting as though sent down from a higher power. Electronic textures pulsate and grow in the chorus, shining bright as the song climbs into anthemic territory. Arya Zappa uses an underlying darkness, lyrically picking its punches, before dealing the killer blow in a chorus that reaches heavenly heights. Whispers of semi-functional radio chatter ends the journey, three minutes and twenty-two seconds of gliding daydreams and pure sonic escapism.

‘One By One’

From the fine city of Manchester arrive DEAFDEAFDEAF, their new effort ‘One By One’ echoes the lyrical sentiment and underlying goth-tinged darkness of 80s heroes The Chameleons, with all the drive and lyrical dissatisfaction of the now sadly defunct Eagulls. Cutting lead guitar lines meet boundless drumming in a momentum that allows the bass groove to twist through the jangling rhythms, offering a wall of pent-up emotion. Vocally Nathan Hill brings an ecstasy to the charging chorus sections and exhales in the verses as the subject matter of frustration and unhealthy habits arrives at the forefront of the track. DEAFDEAFDEAF will seemingly stop for no one as ‘One By One’ offers an outlet to a relatable everyday struggle in modern Britain, the verses ooze feeling and lived experience while spilling over the song’s endless thrust.