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.

Times New Viking Play Velvet Underground Covers, Avoids Creepy Mystery Injections

Hot tip! Short story! Times New Viking, everybody's new favorite cool band to reference, is playing an evening of covers of The Velvet Underground, everybody's old favorite band to reference. It goes down February 14, 2009 at Columbus, Ohio's Wexner Center for the Arts' Warhol exhibition. Columbus is Times New Viking's hometown, and the site of one hot indie rock Valentine's date for probably more than a few fans. That's the news. What a great story, huh? Interesting enough to be important, short enough to give me time to write it and still have time to eat before work. Everyone's a winner!

Here are a handful of Times New Viking dates to add that special je ne sais quoi to my word count

12.09.08 - Memphis, TN - Hi-Tone *
12.15.08 - Columbus, OH - The Summit
02.14.09 - Columbus, OH - Black Box on Mershon Stage (Wexner Center for the Arts)

*Holly Go-Lightly

Mario Speedwagon’s Under The Radar News Roundup: Buzznet Employees Get The Boot, Initial Noise Pop Deetz Announced, Grammy Nominations Announced (Like I Care?), New Record And Home For MSTRKRFT, and 4AD Release AIDS Benefit Comp

- Everyone is getting fired. The latest cuts are from Buzznet, who, according to Valleywag, let go around 10 out of 89 employees. The Buzznet network includes Idolator, Stereogum, and Absolute Punk. MTV has also rumored to have quit that bitch John Norris. (Why does he look like that?) Check out our Viacom story below for more info.

- San Francisco music festival Noise Pop announced festival dates and their initial lineup. The fest will take place February 24, 2009 through March 1, 2009 and will be held in various venues around Frisco. The early band/artist confirmations include Anthony and the Johnsons, No Age, New Pornographers front dude A.C. Newman, Goblin Cock, and others. Check out more at Noise Pop’s official website.

- Uh, the Grammy nominations were announced. Metallica was nominated for “Best Recording Package.” WTF? That’s a category?

- Fucking finally: MSTRKRFT’s sophomore album will be released March 17, 2009 on Dim Mak/Downtown Records. Fist of God features Ghostface Killah, N.O.R.E., Lil’ Mo, and John Legend (barf).

- On February 17, 2009, 4AD will release Dark Was The Night, a 32-track double-disc/triple-vinyl/download that will benefit the Red Hot Organization, a charity dedicated to raising monies and awareness for HIV and AIDS. Artists included on the compilation include The Arcade Fire, Beach House, Bon Iver, Iron & Wine, My Morning Jacket, The National, Spoon, Suffy Stevens, Yo La Tengo, and many others.

And for those of you who thought 2008 wasn’t a great year for records, things are looking up for 2009! Later, ya’ll.

Viacom to Cut 850 Jobs Across All Departments, Including MTV; Rhapsody Office in New York Shut Down; Chairman Sumner Redstone Also Sells Midway Games for a Pittance to Relieve Crippling Debt, Should Expect Citizen Kane-esque Realization That His Life Has Been Empty and Meaningless Any Day Now

Following a calamitous 37% drop in third quarter profits, media conglomerate Viacom, owner of MTV, BET and Paramount Pictures, has announced plans to eliminate 850 jobs, approximately 7% of its workforce, across all divisions and departments. Along with the layoffs, Viacom will also freeze some senior level pay raises for the coming year. (Yes, you read that correctly: 850 jobs gone, but only some high level executives won’t get a bonus next year. Ain’t croneyism grand?)

The exact number of cuts at MTV have yet to be announced, but already MTV and RealNetworks have slashed 25 jobs with the closing of music downloading service Rhapsody’s New York office and rumor has it that even John Norris has been axed. Meanwhile, Paramount Pictures has let go of 140 employees, and cable channel BET cut roughly 50.

Viacom expects to save $200-$250 million pretax as a result of the cuts and salary freezes. However, it will cost the company $400-$450 million in fourth quarter restructuring fees to rearrange Viacom into a working order that can weather the recession as best as possible. But considering how deep in debt chairman and general plague upon humanity Sumner Redstone is, I don’t think this restructuring has a great chance of success.

According to the AP, Redstone’s National Amusements, which owns controlling interests in CBS as well as Viacom, is $1.5 billion in the red. Along with the layoffs at Viacom, Redstone attempted to ease his company’s debt by selling 80.3 million shares of Midway Games, the makers of Mortal Kombat, to a private investor for 12¢ per share on the condition that the investor also take on $70 million of Redstone’s debt. The Midway deal will ultimately amount to an $800 million loss and will only cover about 5% of the debt.

So yeah, with business skills like that, it’s hard for me to believe this Viacom restructuring will work at all. Basically, Redstone is gonna have to muster up the courage and sell his beloved Viacom, but considering how Redstone’s stubbornness has managed to estrange him from his entire family as well as ruin his business, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. He’ll realize the errors of his ways at some point, though. Say it with me now, “Rosebud.”

Dirty On Purpose Call It Quits And Announce Farewell New Year’s Eve Show

You know how every music fan has a band that both they’re obsessed with and the average indie kid has never heard of? The kind of band that always finds its way onto every mix CD? Well, Dirty On Purpose was my secret obsession -- “was” being the operative word, as they are no longer. The New York quartet has decided to break up “after spending an unusual and unhealthy amount of time together over the years.” They're scheduled to play a farewell show at the Mercury Lounge in New York City on New Year’s Eve with A Place To Bury Strangers.

The saddest part about all of this? Dirty On Purpose’s headline on MySpace still reads: “Working on a new album…” Sniff, sniff. Perhaps we can still expect this album at some point in the future? Well, the band members are definitely continuing on with other musical projects, so that’s better than nothing at all.

Lil’ Wayne Tours With Elephant Six Member on Bass; This Probably Means Nothing to Lil’ Wayne

Lil' Wayne, recent picker-upper of Grammy Nominations, has decided to take his show on the road once again. Big deal. However, through some bizarre series of coincidences that apparently involves playing with Gnarls Barkley at some point, Heather McIntosh of Elf Power and Circulatory System will be joining him on bass. Weird!

I sincerely hope Ms. McIntosh takes this opportunity to introduce Carter to her and her friends' psychedelic pop universe. Being the sponge of influences and information that he is, Wayne can only turn his E6 influence into more gold. Lil' Wayne travels to India. Lil' Wayne taps the Tall Dwarfs to open a run of shows. Lil' Wayne quits Pink Floyd. The possibilities are endless.

Upcoming dates on which Wayne will probably be too busy autotuning things in his dressing room to listen to any new music:

* T-Pain, Keyshia Cole

** T-Pain, Keyshia Cole, Gym Class Heroes, Keri Hilson

*** Keyshia Cole, Gym Class Heroes, Keri Hilson