Billboard Bits: Jay-Z, Ambulance LTD, Glen Phillips

News on Jay-Z, Ambulance LTD, Glen Phillips

Def Jam president Jay-Z, who is also part owner of the NBA's New Jersey Nets, has launched a contest for amateur performers to write and record a Nets theme song. The contest is a partnership with Sprite and New York radio station WQHT (Hot 97).

The winner will get a chance to meet him, perform the song live at a Nets home game this season and record it at a New York studio. The recorded version will also be played at Nets home games. Representatives from the Nets and Hot 97 will choose the best three songs, from which Jay-Z will select the winner.

Entries will be accepted through March 5 and must be recorded on a CD or tape, addressed to "Nets Song Contest," Nets Basketball, 390 Murray Hill Parkway, East Rutherford, NJ 07073. Entries can also be uploaded via Hot 97's Web site.

-- Clover Hope, N.Y.

While it works on its sophomore album, rock act Ambulance LTD will tide fans over with the seven-song "New English" EP. Due March 14 via TVT, the set is led by two new songs: the title cut and "Arbuckle's Swan Song." It also features a cover of Pink Floyd's "Fearless" and the rarity "Country Gentleman," previously only available on StarTime International's "Super Cuts" compilation.

The EP is rounded out by an acoustic demo of "Country Gentleman" and a demo of "Sugar Pill," plus "Straight A's," a hidden track from the U.K. pressing of Ambulance LTD's 2004 debut, "LP." The group's next, as-yet-untitled effort is expected for release in late summer.

-- Jonathan Cohen, L.A.

Former Toad The Wet Sprocket frontman Glen Phillips will release his next album, "Mr. Lemons," May 2 via his own Unami label. The 11-track set features guest appearances by vocalists Kim Richey and Garrison Starr plus a cover of the 1980s Huey Lewis and the News hit "I Want a New Drug."

Phillips' most recent solo release, "Winter Pays for Summer," was issued last year by Lost Highway. The artist plans to tour North American from March through September, beginning March 1 in Tallahassee, Fla. He will also perform twice during the upcoming South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

-- Jonathan Cohen, L.A.