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Battleme is the psyche of songwriter Matt Drenik. The trip started in late 2009. It rolls on and on and on.

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Digital Daggers

The Digital Daggers are a Los Angeles based duo — consisting of vocalist Andrea Wasse and multi instrumentalist and producer Jason “Space” Smith. The band deliver raw, personally-charged soundscapes that will leave the listener wanting more.

The Digital Daggers’ self released their first album, The Devil Within, in early 2012 and it immediately caught the ears of music supervisors everywhere. The album had tracks placed in numerous movies, TV shows, video games and commercials including the Vampire Diaries, Nikita and Pretty Little Liars. On Close Your Eyes the band aims to broaden their reach and to achieve that goal that they have signed to Los Angeles based indie label El Camino Media, which is owned and operated by the bands former EMI Publishing A&R rep Matt Messer.

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Atlanta native Dan Dixon has been a fixture in the independent music scene for years now, whether he was behind the board at his recording studio or on stage fronting the devilishly brilliant indie rock band PLS PLS.

After disbanding his well loved band Dropsonic, Dixon continued to feed his need to create. Towards the the tail end of Dropsonic’s existence Dixon had starting working on an electronic rock project dubbed PLS PLS (pronounced Please Please) the music conjures heady electronic-laced future rock anthems. Collecting five stand-out tracks, Dixon put them together for the band’s debut release, cleverly titled EP EP.

“I had already started writing songs for PLS PLS around the time Dropsonic released VI. The live version of the band came together about a year ago. Currently, I’ve got Derek Murphy on drums, Mike Boutte on guitar, Andre Griffin on keys, and the mighty Dave Chase, formerly of Dropsonic, on bass. Not a bad crew, if I do say so.”

With a new band in tow PLS PLS’ debut album spans musical styles from the ’60s Wall of Sound to ’70s rock to ’80s dance to future pop. “It’s a more expansive sound. The idea being that you can get lost in it as opposed to being attacked by it, like so much of the music I grew up with. The older I get, the more I want music to invite me in rather than beat me into submission.”

The multi-instrumentalist took these songs and took charge; he wrote and played everything (with the exception of drums) and of course produced LP LP.

“If you love it or hate it, you can blame me for it entirely. I just really needed to hear something different to inspire myself to keep writing.”

The gamble of change is already paying off for Dixon and PLS PLS; they have found success in the movies with “Here Come the Wolves” and “60’s Love Song” featured in the Magnolia Pictures’ horror sensation “V/H/S.”

What started as a recording project and songwriting outlet for Dixon has grown into a “pretty bitching live band” for Dixon and PLS PLS. The bands new album LP LP will be released on El Camino Media in October of this year.

“What we do next is dictated by whatever seems warranted,” Dixon said. “ If touring seems advantageous, then we’ll tour; if not, then we won’t. I do think the days of building a following by slugging it out in clubs for years and sleeping in your van ended a while ago.”

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Nearly twenty years since the formation of his Tennessee-based project
sElf, Matt Mahaffey is releasing a new SElf EP – Super Fake Nice – on July 29th
inked deal with El Camino Media. The six-song collection will feature original tracks – “Gonna Rock,” “Subconscious,” “Hey Hipster,” “Looks And Money,” “Splitting Atoms” and the lead single “Runaway.” Super Fake Nice was written, produced, recorded, performed and arranged by Matt Mahaffey at his Fresh Imperial studio in Franklin, Tennessee. This is the first new body of SElf material to be released since his 2005 album Porno, Mint, & Grime and the band will headline a rare Los Angeles show at the El Rey Theatre on August 1st

SElf is the brainchild of Matt Mahaffey, a multi-instrumentalist studio wizard. He began writing songs at the age of four and spent a large part of his high school and college upbringing mastering studio techniques. In 1995 he released his debut SElf album, Subliminal Plastic Motives followed by tours with Garbage, 311 and Cracker. An early review of the debut from People Magazine described Mahaffey as a “virtual one-man rhythm nation” and stated the album proves “...that alternative rock can be more than atonal, angst-ridden prattle.” Following Subliminal..., came releases on Dreamworks and Spongebath including 1999’s Breakfast With Girls and 2000’s Gizmodgery (made completely with toy instruments).

Since then, Mahaffey further crafted his unique blend of funk, hip-hop and alt-pop and in the early 2000’s his focus started to shift into film and television, scoring music for CSI Miami, Entourage and Weeds. He also started playing and producing for other artists including Beck, Pink, Liz Phair, Keith Urban, The Sounds, Lupe Fiacsco, HelloGoodbye and Tenacious D.

In 2001, Mahaffey wrote and composed “Stay Home” for the Motion Picture Shrek. In 2005, Mahaffey joined up with Beck when he released Guero as part of his touring band, playing multiple instruments on stage every night. He contributed a cover of They Might Be Giants “Ana Ng” in 2008 to the Bar None Hello Radio compilation. In 2010, he began writing songs for SElf again and released a pair of singles, 2010’s “Could You Love Me Now?” and 2011’s “Looks and Money.” While he continued to work with other artists, Matt’s desire to record and release music of his own was growing and he set to working on new music for 2014.

He kicked the year off with a vinyl reissue on Fat Possum Records of his 1995 debut Subliminal Plastic Motives in January followed by the first SElf live shows in nearly a decade including sold-out dates at The Gramercy Theatre in NYC, Exit/In in Nashville and the El Rey in Los Angeles.

This past May he contributed a brand new song – “Stranger than Strange” to Blake Shelton’s Songs for Blake Autism Awareness Compilation. Thanks to a newly penned deal with El

Camino Media, fans will get to hear the new EP Super Fake Nice this July. Check & for the most up-to-date information.

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The Bixby Knolls

Formed in 2009, The Bixby Knolls are something of an anomaly in the LA music scene. While other bands were trying to reinvent electro pop or mining twee romance, the four boys in the Knolls were cooking up their own hybrid version of California rock music—something equal parts Britpop, fuzzy
garage rock, and anthemic power pop. It proved to be a combination that not only set them apart from most of their contemporaries, but it also put them squarely in their own lane.

Originally independently released in 2013, Near & Undear—The Bixby Knolls’ full-length debut—will see a proper rerelease in February of 2014 from the fine folks at El Camino Media. Recorded at the iconic Sound Factory Studios in Hollywood, the album was produced by Joe Cardamone (moonlighting from his role as front man in The Icarus Line) and engineered by Greg Gordon. The resulting record was nothing short of spectacular.

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Veruca Salt

One summer day in 2012, Veruca Salt’s vocalist-guitarists Nina Gordon and Louise Post sat downstairs in Gordon’s basement in Los Angeles and sang together for the first time since the two ended their friendship and musical partnership 14 years prior. “We played ‘Get Back’ and ‘Wolf,’ and it was just . . . how do I even describe it?” Gordon says. “It was sublime. Our voices hadn’t changed. We just locked right in and it was heaven.” “I thought, ‘We’re just going to melt into a puddle of tears when we start singing,’” Post says. “There were so many emotions. Nina and I had missed these huge chapters in each other’s lives. It was like, ‘So how much did you love Strangers With Candy? What did you think of The White Stripes?’”

Gordon and Post’s reunion eventually led to the pair reforming Veruca Salt with their original bandmates: Gordon’s brother, drummer Jim Shapiro, and bassist Steve Lack. This year sees the release of their first album-length collection of new music written by all four original members – a record called Ghost Notes, produced by Brad Wood (who produced their gold-selling debut album, American Thighs).

But before we get to more about that, let’s cut to the early ’90s. The seeds of Veruca Salt were first planted in Chicago in 1991, when Post and Gordon were introduced by a mutual friend (actress Lili Taylor) who thought the two should make music together. With Shapiro and Lack on board, the group hit the city’s thriving club scene at a time when local acts Smashing Pumpkins, Urge Overkill, and Liz Phair had begun to receive national attention. In 1993, Veruca Salt played its first gig in the neighborhood of Wicker Park, Chicago’s indie-rock epicenter, and soon released the “Seether” single on local label Minty Fresh.

Then everything went crazy. After a major-label bidding war erupted and the band signed to Geffen Records (home of Nirvana), Veruca Salt experienced a meteoric rise, doing everything a young band coming of age in the grunge era could hope to do. They toured with alt-rock royalty Hole and PJ Harvey. They released an album, American Thighs, which eventually sold a million copies worldwide. They scored features in Spin (which called American Thighs “a flawless teenage memory glass”) and Rolling Stone (who dubbed their music “heady pop confections laced with a dash of menace”). They recorded an EP, Blow It Out Your Ass It’s Veruca Salt, with noise-king engineer Steve Albini. They also played a hometown arena show in front of 10,000 people with Weezer, Hole, and Dinosaur Jr., kibitzed with Matt Pinfield on MTV’s 120 Minutes, performed at the UK’s prestigious Glastonbury Festival, and appeared on Saturday Night Live.

But trouble had begun to set in before Veruca Salt went into the studio in Hawaii to record their second full-length album, Eight Arms To Hold You, with Metallica/Mötley Crüe producer Bob Rock. “I just think we were so overwhelmed,” Post says. “We couldn’t appreciate everything that was happening to us. We weren’t grounded. We had been writing and singing together for some time before we even played a show, but we didn’t know what was happening to us. We didn’t have anyone saying, ‘All right, this is going to really mess with you guys.’” “Well, Vicki Peterson from the Bangles warned us,” Gordon says. “She said, ‘People are going to try to pit you against each other; they’re going to try to come between you. Management can be really divisive. Producers can be divisive.’ All that stuff. And we were like, ‘No, no, no, we’re best friends. That's never going to happen to us.’”

In February 1997 Veruca Salt released Eight Arms and hit the road for an arena tour opening for Bush. Shapiro had left the group after the album was completed to pursue his own music. “Jim was the moral glue in the band,” Gordon says. "His leaving was big.”

Veruca Salt broke up in early 1998 when Gordon suddenly left the band. Though she and Post aren’t eager to give exact details about what led to the breakup, they will say that ultimately a lack of coping skills led to their implosion. “We understand that people want to know the gory details,” Gordon says. “Just watch the Fleetwood Mac Behind the Music. It was drugs and cheating and all that junk, and the two of us not talking about what was really going on. If it were Mick and Keith or something, Louise and I would have just had an old-fashioned fistfight and gotten back to work.”

The split took a heavy emotional toll on both Gordon and Post, who describe their sisterly bond as akin to that between soulmates. Each tried to sort out their feelings through music, Gordon on her first solo album, Tonight and the Rest of My Life, and Post on a subsequent Veruca Salt album, Resolver. Years went by without the two speaking. Then, in 2003, they began to very slowly mend fences, emailing sporadically. By 2008, both had married and started families and they began to lean on one another as new mothers. “We never talked about music, ever, in those years,” Gordon says. “It was all about our families. Nothing else. And we never met face to face."

Then in 2012, Gordon read that Mazzy Star had reunited and were performing together for the first time in 15 years at Coachella. “Something about that scratched my soul,” she says. “It gave me this pang of wanting to sing with Louise again, like really wanting to. I emailed her and said, ‘Hey, Mazzy Star are playing Coachella, shouldn’t we?’ And she said, ‘Maybe we should start with coffee.’"

The two met for dinner instead and wound up talking through years of unresolved pain and resentments, emerging from their teary, hours-long meal with hope. “Friendship was the most important thing there, but I couldn't help but jump right ahead to playing music,” Post says. “I thought, ‘Now that we’re talking again, when do we start playing?’ I almost couldn’t differentiate between the two. It seemed like now we’d pick up our guitars and play, because that’s what we do.”

Post had been in touch with Lack over the previous years and broached the subject of a Veruca Salt reunion with him. “I said, ‘Would you consider possibly playing with the band again?’ He said, ‘I’ve been waiting for this moment for years. I didn’t think this would be my answer, but yes, I would.’” Shapiro, too, was on board, and in August 2012, the four original members sat down together for the first time. “We went around the circle,” Post says. “Whoever had the floor was to make an apology for something, big or small. That was the running joke, but it was actually very profound.” Adds Gordon: “‘Steve said, ‘I’m sorry I threw a shot glass at your head in New Orleans, Nina.’ And I said, ‘Well, I'm sorry I made you feel underappreciated in the band, Steve.'” Shapiro apologized for leaving the band. “Turns out it had bothered him for years,” Post says. “He had regrets, too.”

The quartet first played together in June 2013. “It was really exciting,” Gordon says. "There were moments where I could picture myself on stage for the first time in 15 years. Then there were moments where it was like, ‘Oh god, this sounds like shit. How could we possibly?’” It also became clear that the band didn’t want to just do an American Thighs reunion. “Nina and I started asking each other, ‘You got anything new?’” Post recalls. “We quickly began working on new songs we had been tinkering with on our own that we thought would be fun to play with Steve and Jim."

Meanwhile, Veruca Salt had been contacted by Minty Fresh about a 20th-anniversary edition of American Thighs, which was first released in September 1994. “It was very timely,” Post says. “And we thought, ‘What if we were to release something new, too?’ I sent Brad a message saying, ‘Hey, we’re recording some songs for Minty Fresh for Record Store Day. How crazy is that?’” Post says. “Would it be any crazier to think that we might record it with you? Is that totally insane?’ And he wrote back saying, ‘AMAZING. I’m in.’ It was exactly the thing we needed to hear and we said, ‘Okay. We're doing this.’” Two new songs on a 10” and a sold-out national tour later, the band reconvened with Wood to work on a full album of new material. “We didn’t know we were making an album with him, but it’s turned into that,” Post says. “It’s been a really cool journey of just writing together and discovering that we want to do this again.”

The new songs on Ghost Notes pick up where Veruca Salt left off 15 years ago, with their sing-along hooks, melodic pop smarts, thundering sonic aggression, reference-packed wordplay, and angelic harmonies still intact. “Anyone who has ever sung in a group, whether it’s a rock band, a choir, or whatever, has felt that buzz when your voice is locked in with someone else’s,” Gordon says. “It’s the greatest feeling in the whole world. Louise and I have always had that. Starting in 1991, we would sit in my living room, and we would sing together, and it was just dreamy."The biggest difference is that Veruca Salt’s new songs are a wholly collaborative effort. Previously, Post and Gordon had written separately before bringing songs to the band. "We were more precious about our songs back then," Post explains. "This time around we are eager to share the responsibilities. We have busy lives, and it's easier sometimes to write a verse and then hand it over to the other for the chorus. One picks up where the other left off. The guys are contributing, too. There’s no more 'Nina song' and 'Louise song.’ These are simply Veruca Salt songs."

“It’s miraculous to have this brand-new, beautiful chapter,” Post says. “We never saw it coming, and yet, here we are. To be able to reconnect and play with these dear friends of mine who are like my family . . . it’s such a gift. As meaningful as it is for our fans, it is that much more meaningful for us. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. Everything is where it’s supposed to be.”

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