LOUDER REVIEWS: 'This Land is Your Landfill' - The Homeless Gospel Choir
For many - especially for Derek Zanetti of The Homeless Gospel Choir – punk rock can act as an excellent form of catharsis. Inspired by the passing of his father, ‘This Land Is Your Landfill’ explores concepts of grief and self-image, taking them as a catalyst to critique social media, viral dishonesty, racism, and bigotry. In tune with the towering themes, Zanetti abandons the bare bones, humble writing of previous albums to make a soulful and expressive piece. Combining a cast of guest musicians from associated acts such as Wingnut Dishwashers Union and Small Pollen, there’s a raucous theatricality permeating every second of the album, brought to the forefront by producer Chris #2 of Anti-Flag notoriety, and executed by the liberating performances on display.
“If I wasn’t so sure the world was ending I’d live a whole lot more” our frontman sings on the psychedelic ‘Art Punk’. Colourful synth touches, accompanied by fuzzy guitar work lend a sardonic irony to the themes of societal collapse and introspective anguish - a perfect choice for lead single. Considering that the apocalyptic themes are handled with doses of significance and sarcasm, the powerful hooks grant a vivid memorability to both the melodies and the messages. The opener, ‘Global Warming’ beguiles with dazzling layers of guitar and keyboards, and a brilliant chant-along refrain, poignantly providing a dash of smirking cynicism to supplement the concept of finding hope in a time of crisis.
‘Don’t Compare’ is another striking display of a desire to take creative risks. Beginning on a set of acoustics, the anthem explodes into touching drama, complete with exhilarated lead work and emancipated choir harmonies, coalescing in aid of the frenzied crescendo. “Don’t you dare compare yourself to anyone but you” runs one line, as the narrator worries whether how he interacts online, affects how he’s perceived. We transition carefully into ‘Social Real Escape’ the soothing tone and sweet harmonies playing out like a rebellious lullaby about economic justice. Here’s an aspect the album executes incredibly well. Personal troubles like how you look to others, financial hardship or finding trash on the street are placed in a revolutionary, worldwide context. Even the rhythms, which can seem wild and rowdy, are made to emphasise a sense of emotional wreckage. The reason a song like ’Young and In Love’ works so well is that the joyous instrumentals and relationship-themed lyrics are relatable, while still carrying thoughtful musings about the meaning of ‘love’ in a divided world.
Not everything is about fast tempos and anger. ‘Lest We Forget’ acts as a humble slow burn about being on your own “afraid of when the phone rings, afraid the phone will never ring again”, the mournful chords and elusive slide guitars complementing this characters ode to isolation (I’m sure we can all relate). ‘A Dream about The Internet’ is reminiscent of early Homeless Gospel Choir, consisting of one man with an acoustic guitar, pondering a list of assorted reminiscences and guilt. These slower moments help to introduce a mature pace to the record. They’re followed by ‘Blind Faith’, a buoyant and impressive anthem sung from the perspective of a thief who claims to be on “the right side of Jesus”. Vitally, while listeners may or may not agree with everything Zanetti says on these songs, the ideas are certainly considered and underpinned by honest songwriting.
Finishing on the aptly titled ‘Punk as Fuck’ – ‘This Land Is Your Landfill’ concludes on a triumphant note, making clear that this is just the beginning for The Homeless Gospel Choir. An album title that appears on the surface to be a nod to youthful carelessness, is more a political statement. Music that initially seems to be verging on the unruly tones of D.I.Y, bursts with experimentation. Noticeably, the sound leans strongly into that of the indie revival movement championed by acts in the vein of PUP and Jeff Rosenstock, while not copying anyone. In that sense, it’s a welcome contribution in an uncertain and scary year, as well as a piece that will transcend the events which have provided the inspiration!
‘This Land is Your Landfill’ will be released April 24th, 2020 via Hassle Records.
Watch their new video for ‘Art Punk’, Below: