Zach Pentel

Artist Spotlight: The Automatic

AUSTIN, Texas — It was halfway through my third day at the festival, and I was standing in the comfortably air-conditioned confines of a tour bus, watching a hardcore band on a stage outside play to a literally empty lot. Alex Pennie (just call him Pennie) of The Automatic stood beside me, shaking his head. […]

This is SXSW

AUSTIN, Texas – The South by Southwest music festival is unlike anything else in the world. For four days, it’s as if the entire music industry from all over the world descends upon downtown Austin, Texas, for a chance to experience all things musical. While it is primarily geared towards rock music, it is not […]

Cats in the Caribbean

When some bands are looking to channel their influences, they intensely study a stack of records. Others concentrate on deriving influence from one or two albums that they find to have the most impact or similarity to what they are trying to sound like. Their goal, of course, is that the feeling and vibe of […]

The sound of The Sounds

ABBA, Ace of Base, The Cardigans. Many Swedish bands can be pigeon-holed into the genre of kitschy Swede-pop with relative ease and accuracy. Not all of them, though. The country’s latest export, The Sounds, have taken the derivative synth-pop of their 1980’s counterparts and infused it with a decidedly American punk appeal. They win the […]

Big Apple gamble

For some bands, there’s no place like home. For others, there’s no place like wherever they happen to be. Take sonic rebels The Hold Steady, whose convoluted Brooklyn-by-way-of-Minneapolis heritage leaves them without a musical demographic to adhere to. Don’t call them Midwest rock even though they sound like The Replacements – and don’t you dare […]

Hanson is MMMBack and (mostly) grown up

The lights dim. The crowd erupts. Three shaggy-haired men take the stage, launching into a driving backbeat reminiscent of a beer-soaked bar band. “Hello, Melbourne!” cries the singer. The crowd erupts again. The band croons a melancholy vocal harmony, their tortured souls bared to the thousands of onlookers. Black Crowes? Rolling Stones? Hell naw. That’s […]

Soul-ful solo singer: Mike Doughty

Throughout the 1990s, Soul Coughing went against the popular “less-is-more” stage presence of their mope-rocking contemporaries. Instead, they brought loud, rambunctious and interactive live shows to the concert-going masses. After splitting up, bandleader Mike Doughty continued his crusade on a smaller scale, touring the country with nothing more than an acoustic guitar to accompany his […]