Former-Christians’ anti-establishment critique
Derek Zanetti’s The Homeless Gospel Choir, a solo set since 2009, is set to release its first album with a full band. This Land is Your Landfill features the experienced punk musicians Matt Miller (of Endless Mike and the Beagle Club and Wingnut Dishwashers Union), Megan Schroer (of Boys and Kitty Kat Fan Club), Maura Weaver (of Mixtapes and Ogikubo Station) and Craig Luckman (of Small Pollen and Belly Boys). The popular Pennsylvanian folk-punk band was recently signed to reputable UK alternative label Hassle Records and will be releasing their album on April 24th. The Homeless Gospel Choir’s appeal comes in Zanetti’s confrontational approach to controversial topics—mental health, climate change, politics and religion.
This Land is Your Landfill opens with the song “Global Warming,” wasting no time jumping into the album’s primary theme. Zanetti introduces the listener to the album with a feedback-heavy bass chord and an equally twang-heavy guitar riff that build into the first verse concerning the plastic in the ocean, carbon emissions, oil spills and the politicians that ignore said issues. “Global Warming” also introduces the listener to the choral ensemble that serves as supplemental vocalists throughout the remainder of the album.
The body of This Land is Your Landfill is primarily composed of folk-rock guitar sounds mixed with pop-synth and punk effects. “Blind Faith” and “Young and In Love” lyrically reveal far-right Christian hypocrisy and the trials of emotional trauma via unhealthy relationships while employing resonant bass and guitar riffs and raucous drumlines. When Homeless Gospel Choir veers from turbulent instrumentals and settles on a simple and intimate atmosphere, such as the song “Figure It Out,” Zanetti’s personality and voice shine through in a more personal setting. The variance of instrumental themes in this album creates an environment where the listener is intrigued by the uniqueness and unexpectedness of each song, a trait that also allows for a wide range of emotional conveyance that is sometimes lacking on a typical punk album. In this way, the album almost feels like a punk-rock musical of sorts.
The band’s name serves it well: choral vocals and dramatic gospel-esque instrumental effects create a rock and roll spin on what could otherwise be performed in a Broadway production. In pure punk fashion, Zanetti takes on authority in This Land is Your Landfill, combining folk-rock instrumentals and punk messages to create an accessible gospel-like project that appeals to a broad range of listeners.
“Punk As Fuck” closes out this conglomerate album in a splendid outro. “Punk As Fuck” serves as a final act for Zanetti, and one can imagine a spotlight shining onto center stage as the entire cast of This Land is Your Landfill pour their abilities into the closing song. Beginning with a flowery synth sound, but quickly melting into zesty guitar and piano tunes with the occasional marching band horn section, this song pulls out all of the musical stops. “Punk As Fuck” manages to harness a divinely eerie energy without straying from upbeat major chords. Lyrically, the song speculates social ostracization and bullying behavior among young adults in the punk scene and settles on the fact that this band—Homeless Gospel Choir—will die “young at heart and punk as fuck.”
Considering that the entirety of this band was formed so recently, This Land is Your Landfill shows genuine enthusiasm and excitement. Some songs on this album may come off as slightly cheesy in their theatrical style, and the development of some instrumental effects and sounds can be overdramatic at times. Despite these stylistic shortcomings, the band brings a unique musical style into the anti-establishment punk scene, making punk accessible and appealing to an entirely untouched demographic, which is worthy of attention and praise.