Any punk kid in their late 20s and older knows Plow United, and we probably have an affection for at least one of their songs, if not all of them. Joel Tannenbaum, has grown as an artist and an individual since those days and his with last project (Ex-Friends) and his current, The Rentiers, he has become the voice of the aging punks. The punks who have grown a bit, those of who have gone out into the world, and can laugh at their young ideals. Laugh not because they were ridiculous , but because they were so unwavering. Yet, we are still not totally ready to adopt the total assimilation of “normal” adulthood.
A few months ago, Joel released his first “solo” record, Here Is a List of Things That Exist, a 4 track EP that further defined the voice that was beginning to emerge in Ex-Friends. This latest EP, Black Metal Yoga/ Drunks and Stoners, the lyrics and attitude are instantly accessible and identifiable. Every song that Joel writes is not only fun and catchy, but it is also intelligent and a bit tongue in cheek. His voice is one of experience and awareness, but not one that takes any of it too seriously. Which is what all of us old punk rock kids need.
So, Black Metal Yoga. Before I even heard the track I realized that that is what my life was missing.
The opening thumping sound is a bit menacing but the vocals catchy and intoxicating. You’ll sing along immediately while scouring the internet to see if this is a real thing, and if it is, if there is there is a black metal yoga class in your town. Poignant lyrics are melded with an extended reference to Philip K. Dick and dystopian interspace servitude/imprisonment and Scandinavian black metal references. Black Metal Yoga speaks to all of us; we either identify or realize that we need to get off of our asses.
What ever keeps you out of the academy man
Just grab it and hold on to it with both hands,
It doesn’t have make sense, it doesn’t have to be good,
We’re doing black metal yoga in our neighborhood
Whatever keeps you out of a cubical girl
Just hold on to it like it’s the end of the world
It doesn’t have to be cool, it doesn’t have to be green
Black metal yoga is a legitimate scene
The other track on the EP, Drunks and Stoners is equally as hilarious as it is insightful. As long as I have been going to shows there has been this strange animosity between punks and hippies. This track, which has a mellow sound to it, asks why drunks and stoners can’t live together in harmony. This may not be as funny to some other people, but man, I am just visualizing all these punks that I knew back in the day cursing about the dirty hippies. Maybe the next “subculture of the 90s clash” we can examine is the skateboarders vs rollerbladers, now that was some serious hate.
Boiled down, funny or not, all of Tannenbaum's songs are commenting on not wanting to live by the status quo. He has the right amount of self awareness and humor to make a really poignant idea totally accessible. He is a little bit totally serious about not taking anything too seriously.
Though this is technically a solo project, Tannenbaum treats it as a family affair, on Black Metal Yoga/ Drunks and Stoners he is joined again by Mikey Erg and Ankia Pyle and the cover art was done by former Ex-Friends bandmate, Leta Gray. It seems that he has figured out the secret to creating lighting is to surround yourself with electric people. Black Metal Yoga/ Drunks and Stoners will be released on vinyl (150 black and 150 black and blue splatter) and cassette. The cassette release will have a bonus track along with some super awesome experimental features - all thanks to Baldy Longhair Records.
Enough of me, go fucking check this out.
Or stream Black Metal Yoga here is you don't believe me.