Formed in November of 2015, holders have spent much of the past two years trying to solidify their lineup and seeking out their sound. The band’s most recent iteration came together when Cole Robertson replaced former drummer John Humphreys after the release of the group’s 2016 debut EP, Sorry, Taylor Konnerman. Since then, Robertson and holders founder Nelson Crawford (guitars and vocals) have been busy carving out their aesthetic — a captivating mix of emotive indie rock and fuzz-laden punk that’s fervent and cathartic.
Due out this Friday, the band’s new EP, Family Camping in Peoria, IL, emphatically embraces both ends of that spectrum resulting in a record that’s equal parts fiery and infectious, yet also grim and sobering. Crawford wrote the songs when he was in a dark and unhealthy place in his life, and the EP is a means of looking back at a period where he had more time to spend with family and those he cared about. Hence, the title and all the nostalgic memories it implies.
In a stitched collage of recorded conversations, opening track “Packing” lays out the duality between the strength of familial bonds and friendship and how those ties can be severed via neglect and too many late-night benders. That’s followed by the melodic jangle and strum of “Family Camping,” which finds Crawford burying his laments — lack of financial resources, separation from his parents — in bouncy rhythms and hooks that would seem almost playful if they weren’t shrouded in gloom.
In fact, it’s that emotional dichotomy that forms the backbone of Family Camping, leaving you wondering whether to sulk in your feelings or pump your fists in excitement. Even the barreling intensity of “Peoria,” which somehow manages to merge ragged punk zeal with the dour melodicism of the Smiths, isn’t exempt from the album’s tumultuous push and pull. But rather than tearing at the seams, the EP gathers additional strength by uniting those opposing forces in songs that are moody, spirited, and vulnerable. It may have taken holders some time to arrive at this point, but now that they’ve found their voice, expect plenty more from them in the near future.
“Our sound has evolved over time to complement what’s going on in our personal lives,” Crawford says via email. “We’ve learned to give ourselves time to let our work breathe. We understand that when we give ourselves time to fully put ourselves into our songs we appreciate the finished product so much more and it genuinely comes in our sound.”
holders will celebrate the release of Family Camping in Peoria, IL on Fri., Oct. 27 at Fort Jameson alongside Harmacy, MakeWar (NY), and Good Friend (UK). Doors open at 8 p.m. $5+ suggested donation. All Ages.