Nas May Very Well Start Some New Beef on Tour

Everyone’s favorite religious rapper with street cred is touring this spring. Nas, in support of recent album Hip Hop Is Dead, has announced a 23-date trek that includes, along with the standard U.S. cities, a few spots for our brothers up north. Although the feud between the Street’s Disciple and Jay-Z is supposedly over, reports that initial titles for Nas’s recent release were Jay-Z Is Dead and Sean Carter Is a Pussy with No Cred and Would Rather Wear Button-Ups and Tennis Bracelets and Leather Shoes and Has Forgotten Where He Came from and Has No Friends and Can Only Get His Mom to Do a Collaboration keeps people wondering if the feud can ever end. Not to be outdone, however, Jay-Z had reportedly responded with: "This is not beef/ This is rap homie/ I don't have a scratch on me/ You feel Jay soft/ Rip jay off." I know what you’re thinking: "Feuds are soooo 1997." But just remember, he is married to Kelis, and you are not.

The Nation Is Cleaning Up Radio with Eight “Rules of Engagement”: Does Elvis Costello Know About This?

Those of you who have not given up on radio entirely will be happy to read one of the music industry's more pleasant surprises of 2007: The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) has united with Entercom, CBS Radio, Citadel, and Clear Channel to create eight voluntary "Rules of Engagement," which in theory will help cut down on scandals of the payola variety, as well as securing more airtime for independent music to be played.

Wait... independent music? As in music "not owned and controlled by a major label, and [whose] market share is not reported by a major label"? According to A2IM's Peter Gordon, as stated in an interview with FMQB, that's exactly what it means. As part of the arrangement, independent music will occupy 8,400 half-hour blocks (a 30% marketshare) to be played between 6 A.M. and midnight. Does this mean you should expect to hear your local top-40 station playing Jandek tunes between traffic and weather updates during your morning commute? Not exactly, though that would be disquietingly awesome. The new regulations will ensure that independent and local artists from all genres, including hip-hop, country, rock, and others, are represented on their respective stations.

Other facets of the agreement include stipulations that "Radio should not be allowed to sell or barter access to its music programmers," that "Radio should not exclude independent promotion companies, as a class, from gaining access to music programmers except for independent promotion companies which are compensated based upon playlist additions," and that "Radio shall not ask for or expect, either directly or indirectly, any quid pro quo to play music." Theoretically, new regulations such as these will create a level playing field on which non-major labels will be able to compete. At this point you might be asking yourself: "Wait, we have to spell this shit out? You mean these haven't been regulations all along?" To which I would say: "Brah, now is not the time." Other rules include disclosure of promotional giveaway recipients by stations and ensuring that stations are properly publicizing procedures for music submissions.

The simple fact that Clear Channel would agree to these rules without a court order instinctively makes this reporter wary of the whole arrangement, yet on the surface, things certainly appear win-win. After all, the arrangement has received enthusiastic support from numerous organizations such as the Future of Music Coalition, The National Academy of Arts & Sciences, and others. To be sure, only time will tell whether or not these new regulations will truly make a significant impact on the musical world; but hey, it's a step in the right direction.

Record Label Founder Founds Record Label Shocker: Sub Pop’s Poneman Launches “Hardly Art”

Jonathan Poneman, co-founder of Seattle's Sub Pop, home of... -- oh, you know -- has juuuuuust announced the launch of his lovely shiny new record label, Hardly Art. Despite being distributed by Sub Pop and Warner's ADA and being based in the same building as his old label, Hardly Art is a completely separate and independent entity. So what makes this one so different, Johnny-Boy? Why don't we go check the press release...

"Building on the tradition of many other record labels, Hardly Art will indeed be focused on offering quality records for people to enjoy."

...Uh-huh. Some, uh, inspiring words there, guys. Real good stuff. Records for people to enjoy? I guess I could get into that.

But what would a record label be without records? Being a seasoned professional, Poneman isn't about to fall into that trap and has an album all ready to go, from local cage fighters and artists Arthur and Yu. Their debut, In Camera, is lined up to be released June 19 and promises to be chock full of all the fuzzy poppy druggy Velvet Undergroundy pop that ze kidz are all into nowadays. Should be worth a pop.

Stunningly, In Camera promises to be divided into ten shorter sections, called "songs" or "tracks." Each of these "tracks" has been given its own title. Now, you probably think this is all a little confusing. But helpfully, Arthur and Yu provided a "list" of the "tracks" -- what they are calling a "tracklisting" -- which we are replicating in full below:

Un-American Cat Power Tours Librul, Godless Europe

Hello. Nunpuncher here. Now, you might not know this about me, but one of my many interests (aside from ten-pin bowling, medium-distance running, and putting crisp packets into the oven so they shrink and make really cool keyrings) is the art of dedicatory literature -- or, as so many call it with barely-concealed scorn, "fan-fiction."

My work has not gone uncelebrated in certain circles -- The Newsom Cycle, in which the harpist is seduced by a beguiling young man with a mysterious past from northern England, was much cherished by those in the community, described as "a soaring epic" by SeXiBoi99 and "without parallel" by xJoannaxLoverx. I am not afraid to court controversy -- alt.spektor.yes.yes.yes was in uproar for weeks after Regina In Love almost paired the singer with Dave Berman, of all people (before she was seduced by a beguiling young man with a mysterious past from northern England).

Without further ado, I would like to present to you a short extract from my latest work, entitled Cat Power Goes Wild In Europe. The full story, weighing in at 253 pages, will be available soon at www.sexycatpowerfantasy.com.

Cat Power Goes Wild In Europe (extract)

Chan Marshall sat in her studio, tired and slightly sweaty from the New York Summer. "Oh, Boy, I'm tired (and slightly sweaty)," she said, flicking her fringe from her slightly sweaty forehead. "Working on the follow-up to The Greatest is much harder work than I thought. I'm stuck!"

Her thoughts drifted back to that summer, that wonderful summer two years ago with that beguiling young man with a mysterious past, who taught her so much about the art of love. She thought of his lips. Without thinking, her fingers moved down her slightly sweaty body to her

[snip - Ed.]

"Ah, that's much better," Chan said. "The memory of the beguiling young man with a mysterious past has inspired me!" She picked up a guitar and wrote a really good song and called it Nunpuncher, because that was the name of the young man (with the mysterious past).

Just then, there was a knock on the door. She answered, and on the other side of it was a mysterious young man. "Delivery for -- Chan?!" he said, his blue-green eyes blazing with the memory of that summer two years ago (because he was Nunpuncher). Chan fell into his arms. "Oh, Nunpuncher!" she said, falling into his arms. "I was just remembering that wonderful summer we shared two years ago, before you went away to cure diseases and fight crime in Africa!" Without thinking, they

[snip - Ed.]

Later on, wrapped in silk sheets, their slightly sweaty bodies engtangled, Nunpuncher asked what plans Chan had.

"I'm touring Europe, with the Dirty Delta Blues Band," she said. "Here are the dates:"

Then they had sex for like ten hours.

Rhymesayers Entertainment Joins Warner Music Group’s ADA

According to Billboard, Rhymesayers Entertainment, the Minneapolis-based hip-hop label that's released albums by Atmosphere, MF Doom, Eyedea & Abilities, Soul Position, and many more, has inked a deal with Warner Music Group's Independent Label Group. Ditching distributor Navarre Corp., Rhymesayers will now have its catalog distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA), WMG's "indie" distributor.

"If we have someone who wants to be on a major label, we can, in fact, do that," said co-founder Brent "Siddiq" Sayers to Billboard. "But if we have someone, like Atmosphere, who does not want to do that, we can keep doing what we're doing and bring in some select [promotional/marketing] services."

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the independent label has hooked up with a major for distribution. Nearly all the indie mainstays have major label distribution deals. Other labels that have distribution deals with ADA include Matador, Merge, Secretly Canadian, Touch and Go, Thrill Jockey, Sub Pop, Barsuk, and Domino. Other indie distros include Caroline (EMI), RED (Sony), and Fontana (Universal).

Majors count sales of indie titles through their distribution companies as part of the company's overall sales, which is why some indies argue that majors don't quite own as large a pie of overall music consumption as they make it seem. If you can figure out the logistics of erecting a good, profitable way for indies to get widespread distribution without a major music group's support, you should e-mail me the details so I can get rich off it.

Whenever I go through extended bouts of downheartedness, I simply reach over to the last-minute stocking stuffer my mom bought me last Christmas: an inspirational quote-a-day desktop calendar. But it rarely changes my mood. "I cannot always control what goes on outside. But I can always control what goes on inside." True. I never have a problem keeping my insides a burning cesspool of self-loathing and crippling depression. "There is a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem." Not true. I am worried I will have to read more of these, so I solve this by tossing this useless calendar in the trash.

Nah, words on a 5'x4' piece of paper accompanied by a poorly drawn cartoon just do not do the trick like music does. For months on end, I shunned the words of people like Twain, Thoreau, and "Author Unknown" in favor of daily doses of uplifting lyrics and music by Misters Alex and Tom White, who go by the cleverer moniker The Electric Soft Parade, to soothe my forever-broken spirit. It did the trick until I wore out my copies of Holes in the Wall and The American Adventure. Last summer's stop-gap EP, The Human Body, was certainly a wonderful surprise -- none other than our own Grant Purdum loved it, so you know it must be good! It quelled my loneliness for a brief period, but left me wanting more.

On April 24, my days of dread will once again slip away because Better Looking Records will release a new Electric Soft Parade album. You can check out Tom White's guide to the album here, but by the title alone, No Need to Be Downhearted, I know the band is once again singing directly to me! Be gone blues!

No Need to Be Downhearted about the lack of a tracklisting, because here is one:

1. No Need to Be Downhearted (Part One)
2. Life in the Backseat
3. Woken by a Kiss
4. If That's the Case, Then I Don't Know
5. Shore Song
6. Misunderstanding
7. Secrets
8 Cold World
9. Have You Ever Felt Like It's Too Late?
10. Come Back Inside
11. Appropriate Ending
12. No Need to Be Downhearted (Part 2)

The Whites, with Matthew Twaites on bass and ex-Dodgy drummer Mathew Priest on, um, drums, are using their time away from their "other projects" (Tom and Alex are also in The Brakes) to hit the ESP route hard when they play the U.S. and the UK during the next two months. Included below are their FOUR SXSW shows, with times, so you can plan your Austin sight-seeing and sound-hearing trip. AAA's got nothing on us

03.15.07 - Austin, TX - Moonshine (4:45 P.M., Windswept/Hunnypot party)
03.16.07 - Austin, TX - Guero's (4:30 P.M., Congress party)
03.16.07 - Austin, TX - Maggie Mae's (1:00 A.M.*, Better Looking/East-West showcase)
03.17.07 - Austin, TX - Cedar Street Courtyard (9:30 P.M., Filter/Lifebeat showcase)
03.19.07 - San Diego, CA - Casbah #
03.21.07 - Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland $
03.28.07 - London, England - Shepherd's Bush Empire %
03.29.07 - London, England - The Fly
04.18.07 - Stoke, England - The Sugarmill
04.19.07 - Newcastle, England - Digital
04.20.05 - Dundee, Scotland - Westport Bar
04.21.07 - Aberdeen, Scotland - Lemon Tree
04.23.07 - Glasgow, Scotland - Oran Mor
04.24.07 - Sheffield, England - The Plug
04.25.07 - Manchester, England - Roadhouse
04.26.07 - Hull, England - The Welly
04.27.07 - Leeds, England - Cockpit
04.28.07 - Bristol, England - Thekla Social
04.29.07 - Southampton, England - Joiners
04.30.07 - London, England - King's College
08.03.07 - Rees-Haldern, Germany - Haldern Pop Festival

* 1:00 A.M.? Shouldn't this be listed as March 17? No? Ok.

# Goldrush and Ryan Ferguson

$ Goldrush

% Billy Mackenzie tribute/Sound Seekers benefit show with Apollo 440, B.E.F. (British Electric Foundation, Claudia Brücken & Andrew Poppy, Mower, and Subterraneans (featuring Paul Haig and Christine Beveridge)