Ramallah's "Kill A Celebrity": Officially REQUIRED LISTENING for Readers of Local (Com)Motion

You may or may not like heavy music. You may or may not like punk. I don't care. You need to hear the messages on this album.

Normally I would be racing to write a CD review of this so it could be published in The Advocate and reach thousands of readers. Unfortunately, I slept on Kill A Celebrity for too long (it came out in late 2005) and The Advocate has a policy of publishing CD reviews that are fresher.

So I'm sitting down at 2:30 in the morning, after 2 and 1/2 glasses of wine and exactly two listens of this CD, to tell you that you need to hear this. Why? Because, quite simply, Ramallah's latest disc is the kind of music that compels you to act. You can't fucking listen to this and sit still.

Within the legendary Boston hardcore scene, there has been one band that has been consistently hailed over all others: Blood for Blood. If one were to liken them to Connecticut's Hatebreed, it wouldn't be too far off the mark. Blood for Blood (who have since broken up) had a dubious reputation for shedding, um, blood (imagine that) at shows, and for generally attracting working-class thugs who needed an outlet for their pent-up frustrations. To quote from the Victory Records website:

"Their ‘white-trash working man’ ethics and ‘no holds barred’ attitude have garnered Blood For Blood a following that is among the most fanatical and dedicated of any fanbase in the music scene today. In a scene currently lacking in old-fashioned angry hardcore, Blood For Blood stands where legends Sheer Terror and Killing Time once reigned."

Yeah. There's violence here. But it goes deeper than that.

Class lines have always clearly divided the hardcore pretenders from the real heirs to the scene. Blood for Blood, you might say, were the kings of lower- and middle-middle class hardcore: they ran into problems with society enough to have a political bent, but they were still sonically punk-as-fuck. (Compare to Hatebreed, who, over the long-term, have shown themselves to be eagerly upwardly mobile -- both in business practice [signing to Universal Records and, for their latest release, Roadrunner Records] and musical composition [their increasing metal influence culminated in a guest spot by Slayer's guitarist Kerry King on 2002's Perseverance]. Hatebreed's lyrical material has always stayed squarely centered on abstract values, whereas Blood for Blood were always eager to grapple with real-life issues.)

So enter Blood for Blood's "White Trash" Rob Lind, the mastermind behind the Ramallah project. Their first disc, But A Whimper, was a wicked taste of things to come (it clocked in at just 13:53). On Kill A Celebrity, White Trash Rob takes the time to unpack and expand his views, providing what one might dub a "working class progressive" stance on international politics and domestic affairs.

At least, that's the scholastic way to put it. Another way to put it: far-left liberals (as opposed to centrist Democrats) and progressives have always struggled with giving their beliefs an artistic voice. The effortlessness with which Ramallah does so suggests that we (I say "we" because I count myself among the ranks) have all been overthinking, overarticulating, and self-censoring too much.

White Trash Rob cuts straight to the fucking chase, and it's magnificent. One can only quote.

"What a beautiful rage/what a noble crusade/what a beautiful hatred ... I wish I was as strong as you." -from "Brother Malcolm"

"I'd love to... put some sarin gas/in the central A/C at the VMAs/and watch those beautiful faces/turn ashen gray... Kill a celebrity, and you will find you can strike down a god." -from "Kill a Celebrity"

Watch in awe as Rob quotes from the Sacred Cow themselves, The Beatles, by covering "A Day in the Life" and translating it into hardcore-ese as though the song's original authors were just, y'know -- people. (As someone who resists the canon [and canonization] of The Beatles as one might resist Titanic, The Da Vinci Code, and the Harry Potter books, I knew from the opening notes that Ramallah was covering a song. But, ignorant as I was of the source, I have to say that I enjoyed knowing that Rob was making an old song relevant in the first half, and explicitly updating it in the second. Such audaciousness could only be punk. Doubly so upon realizing [a Google or two later] that he was fucking with the holiest of rock's holies.)

But the high point of the album, for me, had to be "Heart Full Of Love." Reading is good, but listening is better. Shit, if you want an MP3 of this, e-mail me.

"I want to cut the brakes on every SUV in the world. And I'd love to burn down to ashes every jewelry store in the world. I'd love to drown in crude oil every 'spring break' beach in the world. I'd love to slap awake every sheep that puts their faith in the monsters that run our world. My heart's so full of love... I'd love to rape a Hilton sister or kill an FM show director and piss on the illusions that you hold so dear. I'd love to silence all the liars preaching what they know is poison; piss on their illusions and show you true fear. I want to grind into dust your American Idols, all with a heart full of love... My heart's so full of love that I would save you all if I only could. My heart's so full of love, I'd even die for your sins than watch it all fall... My heart is so full of love... Blood. Terrorist, is your heart also full of love?"

Incredible. Incredible. Finally someone is able to step up to the plate and say: no, no, my dissent, my qualms, all the times I've disagreed with you and freaked out and told you you're full of shit -- they're not because I'm neurotic and not because I'm weak and not because I don't have anything better to do. They're because I am so fucking full of love that cold assholes like you could never even comprehend it. They're because I love this country and this world and its people so much that I can't do anything but point the finger and call "bullshit" on your lies. And you -- you're not even from the same planet.

Ramallah's dreams of MTV-destroying, SUV-disabling violence may be short on real-life solutions -- but they're long on giving pent-up frustrations a voice and a purpose. For once, here's an aggressive disc that does the real thing: by articulating and advocating extreme solutions, it gives those of like mind the impetus to seek realistic changes.

Pencilgrass is Breaking Up, Too?


At least the Deftones haven't successfully murdered each other yet.

As per that indubitible bastion of news, the MySpace Bulletin Board (TM):

we are not quitting music.
but pencilgrass is exiting your reality forever.
the members will forever make music in one form or another .
with one instrument or another.
with one band or another.

but for now yall.

we are going into a cocoon.
so that we can become beautiful butterflies.
do you understand?

DB Attempted Translation from rock-star-ese into English:

We hate each other.
Actually, some of us like each other, but the loud band members and dudes who would be hard to replace (like the drummer) hate each other.
We're not making enough money.
You haven't been coming to our shows.
You ate all our bean dip.
My heart will live on.

On Paths of Torment is Calling it Quits!

So if you want to see the the band that's arguably been at the core of the young Torrington metal scene for the past three years, come to Musomania this weekend. They play on Saturday.

Here's their announcement from MySpace today:

That's right kids. After 3 years, we feel that it's finally time to put OPOT behind us, for various reasons. Regardless of the fact that we won't be doing much after this show, we'll still be shooting a video for "There's Something Rotten In The States Of Condition", so we want as many of you guys there as possible to make it something to remember. To everyone who has ever supported us or helped us out in any way, we can't thank you enough. It's been an amazing ride, but at this point this band is just not what all of us want to pursue. And to Josh, thank you so much for giving your all to us over these past few weeks, and busting your ass to learn our songs as quickly as you did. We all <3 you and are sorry things turned out this way; we hope there are no hard feelings. We wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Again, thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past few years. We'd absolutely love for you all to come out to Musomania this weekend and rock out once more. The show's profits are going towards our singer Lou's hospital bills, as he suffered a fractured larynx earlier this summer, putting him in the hospital for 3 days without any insurance. So come out for a good cause, rock out for the video's sake, and have a great time. Check out our shows page for more details.



Things have been SO busy in my personal life lately. I've been totally neglecting you, and I'm sorry.

If it's any consolation, I have some big things in the works for the blog right now:
*Several nifty exclusive articles
*A regular series of CD reviews
*The return of the "Weekly" Mailbag (which was, ahem, never even CLOSE to weekly)

In the meantime, I've been uploading to Flickr like a madman. Click the link on the right-hand side, and take a look at "My Sets" -- I've got a bazillion concerts, all organized by date and band. Who knows -- maybe your fat ass or ugly mug is accidentally in one of the pictures. OMG you're on the INTERWEB!

And to everyone who's been a part of all the crazy good things happening in my life right now:
Thank You.