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Album Review: The Homeless Gospel Choir – “Normal”

Next time you’re at a show, look around. What do you see? Does everyone look the same as you? Does everyone look like they’ve got everything worked out? Well the truth is no one does. Everyone has the same neurosis, fears and hang-ups. Everyone gets scared. Everyone feels unhappy or lonely sometimes. The one thing you all have in common is the reason you find yourself crammed together in that dark room with the sticky floors and the unmistakable smell of stale sweat and spilled beer. That band or singer that’s just about to take the stage. Think about that rush as the lights dim, and the crowd whistles and cheers. That’s what unites us all because – We. Are. Punks.

A simple, unifying message that forms the basis of the anthemic centerpiece of the title song from the Homeless Gospel Choir’s epic new album. On “Normal”, Derek Zanetti, the man behind The Homeless Gospel Choir offers a precise, succinct statement to the world about what it means to suddenly find yourself part of the all encompassing, life-changing scene that is punk rock. The electric, bright and bouncy pop-punk masterpiece, “Normal” will undoubtedly be the most important song of someone’s adolescence. The song that makes them finally understand that they aren’t alone. They will find solace and inspiration, as Zanetti did, when someone uttered the same immortal and timeless words to him: “You’ll never be normal/ because you’re a punk”. Probably the simplest, most honest and soul-stirring lyric of the year. For the rest of us with adolescence a distant memory it’s a reaffirming nostalgia trip to when you exhausted your first punk album on whatever outdated format you owned it. A song that so eloquently sums up why you’re here and why you’re reading this.

Every lyric on this album describes a life lived and is equally as relatable as “Normal”. Whether it be the acoustic, folk punk of “Depression” which serves as an anthem for those who find themselves in their 30s with life not quite turning out as they hoped, to the free-wheeling pop-punk of “Crazy”. With a fuller sound,  featuring a crisp, lead guitar line from Frank Lero, on “Crazy”, Zanetti brutally honestly details his exasperated attempts to properly express himself with the song, appropriately sounding like the valve loosening on his own personal, emotional pressure cooker. “Everyone” is a sparse yet equally affecting song as Zanetti channels his inner Billy Bragg to balance politically astute yet droll observations on how the world is made up of individuals but how every difference should be valued and treasured.   

Musically, “Normal” sees Zanetti painting with a varied palette, unafraid to incorporate a variety of musical styles. From the slow burning, Frank Turner-esque folk of “Don’t Know” through to the Americana of “Sometimes” and the rousing melancholy of “Alright”. Every song feels like it’s own separate vignette, with it’s own self-analysis, drama and most importantly wit. It is this even-footed ability to judge sharp humor and intelligent observation that makes this the defining album that it is. The same is true of the more recognizable pop-punk songs such as  “1983”, a fist-raising, rocker that shares a lot in common with the hook filled, anthemic self-deprecation of Pup. Once again the song finds Zanetti sitting idly at life’s crossroad, frustrated and hamstrung by his own perceived lack of progress in life.  

“Normal” is one of those rare albums that manages to stir and amuse, with songs that impress on the listener with issues that are instantly relatable. They highlight the insecurities that are in all of us that, more than anything else, bind us together. With that in mind, next time you’re at a show maybe you should take the time to talk to someone nearby. After all, you’ll definitely have at least one thing in common.

4.5/5 Stars



The Homeless Gospel Choir stream new album ‘The Homeless Gospel Choir Presents: Normal’ in full

Pittsburgh, PA’s political folk punk act The Homeless Gospel Choir is streaming its brand new album in full. ‘The Homeless Gospel Choir Presents: Normal’ won’t be out until tomorrow (18th of August) via A-F Records, but is already up for streaming.

The album contains some great guest vocals by the likes of Frank Turner and Frank Iero. You can pick up a copy here or buy one from the band itself on one of the following tour dates below.



The Homeless Gospel Choir release music video for “Crazy”

The Homeless Gospel Choir have released a new music video for the song “Crazy”. Watch it below.

Derek had this to say about the song:

“Crazy is a song about me and my feelings. Sometimes you try to explain the weird shit that’s going on inside of your head, heart & life to other people and you can’t make sense of it. This song is a journey of that. I was very fortunate to have my dear brothers Frank Iero & Dave Watt collaborate with me to make this song and video so special”.

The Homeless Gospel Choir will release their new album “Home” on August 18th via A-F Records.

You can check them out later in the year when they begin their European tour.



The Homeless Gospel Choir announce tour with Beach Slang, Dave Hause & The Mermaid and release date for “Normal” August 18th

This is going to be awesome! The Homeless Gospel Choir (one of my favorite live acts) is going on tour with Beach Slang and Dave Hause & The Mermaid! But that’s not everything! The new album for The Homeless Gospel Choir, “Normal” is due out August 18th via A-F Records!

Tour dates, and the music video for “Normal” can be found below.



New Music: The Homeless Gospel Choir – “Everyone”

More new music from The Homeless Gospel Choir for your Sunday morning. Today, we’ve got a new lyric video for the track “Everyone,” and you can check it out below.

“Everyone” is the latest song to be released from the upcoming album “The Homeless Gospel Choir Presents: Normal.” It’s due out August 18th via A-F Records, and you can find pre-order information here.



The Homeless Gospel Choir detail album “The Homeless Gospel Choir Presents: Normal”

Pittsburgh’s folk punk solo act The Homeless Gospel Choir are to release new album “The Homeless Gospel Choir Presents: Normal” via A-F Records. You can pre-order it here.

Details of the album are below.



The Homeless Gospel Choir premiere new track ‘Why?’

Pittsburgh’s folk punk solo act The Homeless Gospel Choir released a new track. ‘Why?’ is the B-side of the protest singer’s up and coming 7″ “Normal”, out June 9th via A-F Records. You can pre-order it here.

The Homeless Gospel Choir is out on the road now, with the likes of Listener, ’68, Zach Quinn (Pears) and Early Riser. Head down below for full tour dates and a listen to ‘Why?’.



The Homeless Gospel Choir premiere video for “Normal,” recreating Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”

If you watch only one video today, make it this one. The Homeless Gospel Choir’s new video for “Normal” is a shot-for-shot remake of “Ironic.”

The new anthem is the title-track off the upcoming 7″, coming out on June 9th on A-F Records. Check it out over at NPR Music.



The Homeless Gospel Choir release new video for “Normal”

The Homeless Gospel Choir out of Pittsburgh, PA have just released a new video for their track, “Normal.” Directed by Doug Helmick, the video is a shot by shot recreation of Alanis Morissette’s video for “Ironic.”

This is also the title track to their 7 inch vinyl which is due for release on June 9, via A-F Records. 

Check out the video below.



The Homeless Gospel Choir announce new 7″, “Normal”

Pittsburgh’s The Homeless Gospel Choir have a new 7″ coming on June 9th on A-F Records. You can preorder the single at A-F Records.

The single comes ahead of an LP due out fall 2017.

You can check out tour dates below, starting today in Cambridge, MA.



Homeless Gospel Choir announce new album, “Misunderstood And Sweaty”

Well here’s a fun and weird little story. Derek Zanetti, who’s better known as the one-man show that is The Homeless Gospel Choir  has uncovered what he reports is a hard drive containing thousands of off little songs and snippets that he’s determined equate to about six hours of usable, listenable material. He’s going to release them in a series of limited cassette tape releases, and the first of them, called “Misunderstood and Sweaty,” is now available. You can pick up yours here, but they’re limited to 200, so maybe act fast?

 



The Homeless Gospel Choir kicks off tour at a Bernie Rally

Well, this is definitely one way to get your stuff out there. Today, Derek Zanetti, the one man folk-punk act known as The Homeless Gospel Choir played a couple of protest songs at the start of a Bernie Sanders Rally. This stands in the wake of a series of tour dates that will see Zanetti playing across the South-West, alongside fellow folk solo-act Frank Turner. Check out the upcoming dates below.



DS Show Review: Anti-Flag/Such Gold/The Homeless Gospel Choir, NYC, 2/5/15

Show reviewed by Jason Epstein

This did not feel like an everyday punk rock show. It started off with a whiny, somewhat entertaining one-man folk-act, was followed by a punk band, was scaled way back into a conversation between Anti-Flag and two members of Amnesty International, and then turned into a special album plus discography-favorites set. Like I said, it wasn’t your average evening at the punk rock show.

The Homeless Gospel Choir’s name is a bit of a misnomer; it’s not a gospel choir, it’s actually just one bearded trucker-hat-wearing dude in a plaid shirt (aka Derek Zanetti) on an acoustic guitar singing angry, young and poor anthems that speak to the as-far-left-as-you-can-go liberal crowd so directly that it has no hopes of changing any conservatives’ minds (it’d only serve to make them dig in more on their beliefs which I believe there’s a nifty psychological term for that I don’t feel like looking up). The songs were kind of funny, and kind of sad, very impassioned, and pretty bland. But I’m not one for folksy, acoustic-only stuff much, anyway.

Such Gold – an affable group of 20-something dudes who play energetic post-90’s skate punk in the vein of The Loved Ones or older Swellers – followed. They just couldn’t seem to rev up the audience who seemed stunned by the preceding oddity of such a casual act which made it seem more like an open-mic night than a punk rock gathering.

After, Anti-Flag sat down with two multicultural hipsters from Amnesty International and had a fairly interesting discussion about this past year’s, what I’ll lightly call, “race-relation issues.” It was cool to hear that young people have the power to do something about what they feel is wrong in the world, and we were treated to a particularly blistering story of injustice that had a relatively happy ending – because of that very power. It was a rousing call-to-action for those who were already halfway there, but for most it was just a strange segue into the main event of the evening.

The guys came back on a few minutes later and launched into the energetic 13-song punch which is The Terror State, which is as good an album as it was back in 2003. Some of the songs they’ve played a ton, while other they’d never played before this tour. Pretty special stuff, indeed. They went full force, talking mercifully little between songs, and instead choosing to speak through the aggressive mouthpiece of great punk rock. Following the full performance of The Terror State, they let another plaid-wearing beard-having individual address the audience, this time about helping marine life, certainly a noble cause. Anti-Flag soldiered on through almost a dozen more songs, including a brand new jam called “To Hell With Boredom” (totally likable upon first listen) which will be on their upcoming album. One thing’s for sure: It’s great to see a band like Anti-Flag still playing fast and loud nearly 20 years after their first album with a new one on the horizon and no signs of slowing down.

Anti-Flag’s full setlist was as follows:
1. Turncoat
2. Rank-N-File
3. Post-War Breakout
4. Sold as Freedom
5. Power to the Peaceful
6. Mind the G.A.T.T.
7. You Can Kill the Protester, But You Can’t Kill the Protest
8. When You Don’t Control Your Government, People Want to Kill You
9. Wake Up!
10. Tearing Down the Borders
11. Death of a Nation
12. Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.)
13. One People, One Struggle
14. Fuck the Flag
15. To Hell With Boredom
16. Fuck Police Brutality
17. The Press Corpse
18. Broken Bones
19. This Is the End (For You My Friend)
20. This Machine Kills Fascists
21. 1 Trillion Dollar$
22. Cities Burn
23. Die for the Government
24. Drink Drank Punk



The Homeless Gospel Choir re-releases “Luxury Problems” on cassette

Derek Zanetti, the one man folk-punk act known as The Homeless Gospel Choir, will be re-releasing his album titled Luxury Problems on limited-edition cassette. The album will be released through Indiana DIY label Failure Records & Tape and you will only be able to pick these up at his live shows or right here. If cassettes aren’t your thing, you can pick it up on vinyl right here.

The Homeless Gospel Choir last released I Used To Be So Young, in July 2014 through A-F Records.



The Homeless Gospel Choir announces winter tour dates with Listener

Derek Zanetti, the one man folk-punk act known as The Homeless Gospel Choir, has just announced a string of winter tour dates featuring Listener. Check out the full list of dates below.

The Homeless Gospel Choir last released “I Used To Be So Young,” on July 15th through A-F Records.