Billboard Bits: WWC, Keith Murray, Ben Harper

News on WWC, Keith Murray, Ben Harper

WellWellwater Conspiracy, featuring Soundgarden/Pearl Jam principal Matt Cameron and former Monster Magnet guitarist John McBain, will release its self-titled fourth album Sept. 9 via Transdreamer/Megaforce. A spokesperson confirms that the group will be playing shows in support of the set around the release date, hopefully including a run of gigs in Europe. Dates are not yet confirmed.

The 11-track "Wellwater Conspiracy" includes a cover of Thunderclap Newman's classic rock staple "Something in the Air." Cameron told during the writing process that his compositions are "a little bit more guitar-rock driven, which is kind of all I can really do when I write songs. When I try to stretch out and write a sensitive song, it sounds silly. I stick to what I know."

The new album is the follow-up to 2001's "The Scroll and its Combinations," the duo's lone release for TVT. That album featured guest appearances by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Soundgarden's Kim Thayil, among others.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

KeithRapper Keith Murray has split from Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJMG) and is starting an independent label, Head Rush Entertainment,
Billboard Bulletin reports. A spokesperson for the artist says he is in talks to secure distribution.

IDJMG last week released Murray's album "He's Keith Murray," led by the single "Yeah Yeah You Know It" featuring Def Squad, which reached No. 50 in April on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.

Prior to signing with IDJMG, Murray released two albums on Jive. He is currently recording his first album for Head Rush, anticipating a spring 2004 release. He is also planning a DVD on the making of "He's Keith Murray" for release later this year by Head Rush.

-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y.

BenThe video for Ben Harper's "Diamonds on the Inside" will be the first clip premiered Aug. 5 during AOL's "The O.C." Music Showcase. The program will see AOL team up with Fox to debut never-before-seen videos during the first six episodes of the network's new Tuesday night series, "The O.C." The clips will then be available exclusively on AOL for 48 hours.

Set in Orange County, Calif. "The O.C." stars Peter Gallagher ("American Beauty"), Benjamin McKenzie ("The District"), Kelly Rowan ("Three to Tango"), Adam Brody ("Growing Up Brady"), Mischa Barton ("Once and Again") and Tate Donovan ("Murder at 1600").

"Diamonds on the Inside" is the title track of Harper's latest Virgin studio album. Released in March, the set debuted at No. 19 on The Billboard 200. The artist is set to appear July 25-26 at Japan's Fuji Rock festival and kick off another co-headlining U.S. tour with Jack Johnson Aug. 2 in Reno, Nev.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.