Joshua Holland, the multitalented figure at the center of Zoo Keys‘ floaty debut EP, Violent Ends, did not self-release this set of six indie-rock summer jams without significant setbacks.
The Delran, NJ-based band fell apart in the Fall of 2015, but Holland still pushed to complete these tracks. Though the EP was recorded by Holland alone, he has since added new members to Zoo Keys. The band plans to play a comeback show at World Café Life in Philadelphia on May 7th.
With reverb-laced vocals that call to mind the dreaminess of Pure X, Violent Ends cuts a clear path to garage introspection in the style of Twin Peaks and Kurt Vile. “Trudgin’ On,” the EP’s lead-off track, has a surf-rock tilt that puts Zoo Keys in the company of bands like Nude Beach and The Fresh & Onlys.
“Thaw Out” is loose and jangly, opening up into big, head-nodding choruses and catching feelings of warm weather wistfulness. A departure from some of floatier tracks on “Violent Ends,” “Weather Dove” represents Zoo Keys’ grungier side, with fuzzed-out guitar strums enveloping Holland’s voice in a contemplative cocoon. Static in no way other than its distorted instrumentation, “All Over Now” shifts and changes from something sweetly sexy and slow to a power anthem reminiscent of Cloud Nothings at their intense best.
Outside of dense, shoegaze-adjacent sound and ethereal vocals, a sense of hunger and anticipation for what’s to come seems to be the primary theme that holds these songs together. Holland might have experienced some Violent Ends last year, but his first EP promises a bright new beginning for Zoo Keys.