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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Folk punk record tells honest life story through song

Photo courtesy of A-F Records The Homeless Gospel Choir has put out five records, the first released in 2010, with lyrics that are personal, political and always poignant.


Alyson Oliver
senior editor

“Normal” is a vulnerable supercut of a life full of ups and downs and a love letter to punk rock.

The Homeless Gospel Choir is a folk-punk band hailing from Pittsburgh. “Normal,” its third record released in 2017, employs storytelling that could make listeners laugh, cry or all of the above.

The title track declares, “I found my escape / In that Green Day tape / When the songs would end we’d just rewind them,” and “Twenty years and change / Well, this is more than just a phase / I found something that I can believe in.” Many of the album’s musical elements are full of punk grit.

But things start off on a gentler note. “6th Grade” recounts a negative experience with a middle-school science teacher to a soft musical backing.

After a quick transition, “Depression” gives listeners a taste of all facets of the record — it’s folk and punk elements, its tell-it-how-it-is lyrics (“With friends like that, who needs friends / When you have seasonal depression?”) and its adventurous moments as it ends with a sound collage of advertisements.

Its often energetic, upbeat sound contrasts with its storytelling, either giving it an element of dark comedy or coming across as sheer desperation.

In “Alright,” “Crazy” and punchy “1983,” lines like, “She asked me where I’m going to now that I’ve f—ed up everything / I said I’ve been in standstill traffic since 1983” are accompanied by fast-paced music with bright lead guitar lines, pick slides and deftly strummed chords.

The record has its laid-back moments as well. Its slower songs are where its folk sound starts to really come through, reminiscent of tunes one would play while sitting around a campfire.

In “Sometimes,” frontman Derek Zanetti sings over acoustic guitar, banjo, and organ, “Maybe time forgot me / Or maybe God’s out to lunch.”

These softer moments can drag a bit, and the fast-paced ones can feel a bit short in comparison, leaving more to be desired.

However, the tracklist’s frequent dynamic changes never feel forced, oscillating nicely between upbeat and lowkey.

It also has its experimental moments. “Fear” is what the title implies: a track composed of different people talking about what they are afraid of.

Topics range from sharks to bugs to self-destruction to never being good enough, all backed by discordant orchestral sounds.

“Normal” is a record that tells the story of someone who has found a home in the world of music, even as they go through the struggles of life.

It’s good for a summer night, on the road with the windows down, or the dead of winter, as snow falls from bleak gray skies. But most importantly, it’s likely to have its audience coming back for a re-listen.

Photo courtesy of A-F Records

Viewpoint-Music can draw out nuanced reactions
In our daily lives, we hear different melodies that our brain picks up and reacts to, but we don’t dwell on it.

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