RIP: Dennis Yost of Classics IV

From Classics IV's official website:

Dennis Yost, lead singer of The Classics IV, the 1960's soft rock group responsible for hit records such as "Spooky," "Stormy," "Everyday With You Girl," and most notably the group's highest charting record, "Traces of Love," passed away suddenly early Sunday morning, December 7th, in a hospital on the outskirts of Cincinnati, OH with his wife Linda at his side. Dennis was 65 years of age.

Yost, who had been hospitalized in 2005 for a traumatic brain injury sustained after a fall, never fully recovered from the incident, however the cause of death is not believed to be related. A benefit concert, hosted by Jon "Bowzer" Bauman of Sha Na Na fame, was held last year to help raise money for increasing medical costs the Yosts were incurring. Several of Dennis' musical peers showed up to perform, including Mark "Flo" Volman of The Turtles, The Skyliners, Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, and many others.

The Classics IV originally hailed from Jacksonville, Florida, where Yost was raised by his mother Marie Lupato, but recorded all of their hit recordings in Atlanta, GA under the supervision of producer Buddy Buie and Bill Lowery, founder of Lowery Music, Inc. In 1993, Dennis Yost & The Classics IV were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

In the mid 90's, Dennis received a letter of cease and desist, ordering him to stop using the name "The Classics IV" from a lawyer representing a bogus band who had acquired the trademark through other means. Yost sank into a depression as he continued to tour, hopeless that he would ever get the name he helped make famous back, while another group with no original members reaped the profits. Fortunately, in the latter part of 2000, Yost regained ownership of the trademark to "The Classics IV" as part of an out-of-court settlement. A documentary on Yost's struggles is currently in post-production.

Dennis was the last touring member of the original Classics IV.

- Classics IV official website

Blur to Officially Reunite at London’s Hyde Park, But Who Cares Because Thom Yorke Is Growing His Ponytail Out Again!

If the press were always right, Blur would have reunited like 20 times already in the past two years. We at TMT have mainly tried to stick our noses out of the Blur Reunion Mill and into the asses of Radiohead (didn't we report a story about Thom Yorke's chapped lips?), but the time has come to join our fellow "journalists" in announcing Blur's super duper official reunion!

On July 3, Blur will be headlining an open-air show in Hyde Park, London, featuring the group's original lineup of Damon Albarn, drummer Dave Rowntree, bassist Alex James, and the mighty Graham Coxon. And since we are talking about a UK, NME-hyped band here, there's also a rumor that Blur will be headlining Glastonbury in June, but obviously there has been no official confirmation from the festival organizers or from me, Mango Starr.

The show will mark their first time on stage together since a Royal Festival Hall performance in 2000. Blur's last album was the horribly underrated Think Tank.

Tickets for the Hyde Park show go on sale here this Friday. Hey, wasn't that dude on That ’70s Show named Hyde? Coincidence? I don't think so!! Dude's in Blur now!!

Animal Collective Talk “Visual Record,” Hippie Population Listens

Presidential Briefing – December 8, 2008

Welcome to the new war on drugs, Mr. President. Please meet our secret weapon, Avey Tare.

That’s right, Mr. President. In cooperation with the UN, the special international task force code-named “Animal Collective” has announced plans to initiate its latest offensive in the ongoing battle against drug-abuse among the prime demographic (music listeners) under the cover generated by its highly-anticipated decoy album Merriweather Post Pavilion, which hits stores January 20 of 2009. With the drug-addled youth thus districted, Avey, Panda, and Geologist (more code names, sir) will undertake a cunning plan to diffuse the necessity of hallucinogenic drug abuse while listening to an Animal Collective record by (and my God Almighty have mercy on them if they should fail) supplying their OWN psychotropic visuals with their next dose of, er... of what the military calls “youth music.”

Agent Dave Portner (Avey Tare) describes the project as a “visual record” that he hopes will deter and/or discourage his listeners from indulging in the illegal ingestion of illicit hallucinogenic substances. “The lines were really blurry when we started," Agent Porter stated in a recently staged press conference, already speaking in character. "It was going to be a film, like a feature film, but by no means a narrative. It's more collaborative, between us and our friend Danny Perez, who did one of our music videos."

Portner went on to insinuate that Perez has been working on the visuals for the as-yet-untitled project for more than two years, so as to buildup the expectation of the target demographic audience, and that the “band” will be providing the accompanying music. "This year, we got to a place where we can start doing demos and nailing all the sounds down, while we're at home," Agent Portner explained skillfully, sounding every bit as much like a “popular musician” (such as Brandon Flowers or fellow government agent “Rockwell”) as officials present at the conference could have hoped. “It's something new for all of us,” he concluded. “It's been a work-as-we-go process.” Our research shows that drug users respond positively to this kind of casual slang and lack of concrete release dates or album titles, and we are hopeful that the as-of-yet untitled “visual record” project will finally put an end to this epidemic of music-related drug use.

Meanwhile, as a distractionary measure, Project “Animal Collective” will “take to the road” in January around the launch of Merriweather Post Pavilion, via our partners at Domino. After seven European dates, the band will play New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles on January 20, 22, and 23, respectively. We’ve got those fiends on the ropes this time, Mr. President. I can feel it.

Project “Animal Collective” Dates (Declassified):

Pogues Announce Short Mid-March Tour; TMT Writer’s Book Shamelessly Plugged

Whenever I read a news blurb about The Pogues, I always expect it to lead off with some anecdote like, “Earlier today in County Clare, Shane MacGowan’s jaw fell off his skull in circumstances that are pretty reasonable when you think about it for just a couple seconds. But not to worry, Pogues and Popes fans, as soon as he regained consciousness, he discovered his mangled mandible floating in the toilet and promptly went to hospital to have it reattached.” Yeah yeah, I know jokes about Shane MacGowan’s bad teeth became passé about 15 years ago, but God help me if I find them totally unavoidable. Chompers like his were created for no other reason than to be commented upon, and I am simply fulfilling their destiny.

Anyways, let’s get down to the “journalistic” part of this story. The Pogues, the most preposterous gathering of drunken louts ever assembled (despite whatever The Hold Steady have told you), have lined up a few shows for March ’09, including a St. Patty’s Day blowout in Washington, D.C. As if D.C. didn’t have enough problems already, what with the raiders and the slavers and the radroaches and the vigilante politics. Oh, sorry, I’m thinking about Washington D.C. 200 years from now, not the present day. Sorry folks, I’ve been playing a bit too much Fallout 3 lately.

That’s it for the info, now onto the shameless TMT plug! Our very own Jeff Roesgen went and wrote himself a book about The Pogues’ immortal album Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash for the 33 1/3 series. It’s available now via Amazon or, better yet, at your favorite record store or bookshop or haberdasher. So go ahead, read about one of your favorite albums by one of your favorite TMT writers! Oh who are we kidding, we’re all you’re favorite TMT writers! Let’s hug so fucking hard now! Unnnngh!

Billy’s Bones:

Open-Source iTunes Competitor Songbird Is Released, Poops On Steve Jobs’ Head

Did you know that Steve Jobs used to be a crazy hippy? But then he sold out to The Man and agreed to give away free iTunes downloads if you sign up for the Air Force? True story!

Well, power to the people: the open-source music application Songbird, brought to you by the good folks at the Mozilla Foundation, has finally seen an official release. I think it could steal a serious portion of iTunes's user base, and here's why:

- Songbird is customizable. iTunes's customizability is limited, though there are a number of AppleScripts available, mostly written by a guy named Doug. Songbird founder Rob Lord formally worked on WinAmp, for which plugins and skins abounded, and has brought the same extendibility to Songbird. And since Songbird is open-source, anyone can write an add-on. Already, there exists integration, album-art finders, remote control support, and several skins, which these cuties call "feathers."

- Songbird is also a web browser. It's amazing how often this is useful in conjunction with different add-ons. Not only does the program come with a built-in, tabbed Mozilla web browser, but it also integrates playback from the web seamlessly, allows you to archive media, subscribe to music blogs, and search the web for music using a variety of specialized search engines. This video explains it all rather well.

- Songbird is just like iTunes. In spite of its fundamental differences, Songbird still looks and functions very similarly to iTunes. New users, even new users' parents, will have little difficulty making the switch. One can set Songbird to automatically match his or her iTunes library, should he or she so desire. And Songbird features full iPod support, so don't freak out.

- Songbird is open source. Mozilla recently announced their one billionth add-on download, so it looks like this open source thing is for real. Songbird will not try to sell you music or hide your name and email address in your music files (TMT News). Unlike iTunes, it will run lossless formats like FLAC and zany-sounding codecs like Ogg Vorbis. And as methods of distribution continue to transform, the software will evolve to accommodate them.

- iTunes sucks worse than ever. Although iTunes was once marketed with the slogan "Rip. Mix. Burn.," version 8 makes it harder than ever to control the compression and encoding of your files (why not just buy songs from the iTunes Music Store?). This version is also the most invasive yet, indexing your entire music library in order to use its new, unimpressive "Genius" function. It even requires a terminal hack just to remove the links to the iTunes Music store.

Songbird still has a few limitations. Playback support on Apple DRM-protected files is buggy and requires a workaround; artists and albums beginning in the word "the" are infuriatingly alphabetized under "T"; and Songbird is a bit heavier on memory than iTunes. But I have faith that these and other limitations will soon be improved upon. Unlike iTunes, Songbird has no ulterior motive affecting its development. Instead, developers will improve Songbird in response to common needs and user complaints. And maybe, just maybe, it might piss off Paul McCartney a little bit.

The Knife Write an Opera about Darwin, Kinda Creeps Some People Out

You're an enigmatic Swedish electronica duo that has won pretty much every award possible at your country's version of the Grammy awards, the Grammis. You're reported to have recorded an album in the vaults of an old church, and you've single-handedly brought back the immeasurable creepiness of the plague doctor's hooded bird mask into the public consciousness. What do you next? Well, if you can safely check off all these boxes, then you are probably The Knife, and you are now working on developing a Darwinian opera entitled Tomorrow, in a Year for Danish theatre group Hotel Pro Forma.

If you are still reading this and you are not The Knife, got your mind around this? Good. Because details so far are sparse. Set to debut sometime in 2009, the opera pays tribute to the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species with rockin' tunes and experimental form.

Hotel Pro Forma's website promises vague tidbits about how the music is written for "three singers who come from different backgrounds: electronica pop, classical opera and performance. They are the protagonists of the performance, displaying three ways of experiencing the world. They are the spokesman, the organiser, and the one who acts. They are structure, sensation, form, time and thought." So, it's no surprise that the performance is said to "challenge the conventional conception of opera," but trust me -- opera glasses and full-length capes (but please, no unsettling bird masks) are always appropriate for this sort of thing.