April 24th, 2020


The Homeless Gospel Choir – This Land Is Your Landfill (A-F Records)

This album is a change in direction for Derek Zanetti, whose act used to consist of “his voice, his emotions, and his acoustic guitar.” The Pittsburgh native has an actual band now, playing louder and faster than his previous work, moving from indie-folk-punk to pretty straightforward punk rock. What has not changed is the content. This Land Is Your Landfill is protest music and social commentary focusing primarily on politics and mental health issues, but occasionally branching out into people just being generally shitty to each other. 

Truthfully, I tend to shy away from anything that labels itself as ‘protest music’. The lyrics of such artists are usually angry and so on-the-nose that the lack of creativity is cringeworthy. Derek and his new crew don’t suffer from that problem, most of the time. I mean, the album opener, “Global Warming” is exactly what you would expect it to be: a condemnation of politicians using the destruction of the planet as a rally flag for personal freedoms. But throughout the rest of the album, things get more nuanced. “Lest We Forget” is a plea for people to just stop being dicks to each other. “You Never Know” is a ballad about taking personal everything that you read or see or hear, and is probably my favorite track on the record. 

Derek’s acoustic guitar makes enough of an appearance to feel like he is sticking to his roots, but the band really fleshes out the quality of the production, adding a depth of emotional field that is new for The Homeless Gospel Choir. Unlike other acts in this particular milieu, no two songs sound alike and every song feels like it was given the appropriate amount of attention to give it life. 

This is what punk is supposed to be. 

FFO: Desaparecidos, These United States

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