Frankel Chatterbox (Three Ring Records)
From looking at pictures of Frankel (including the one on Chatterbox's cover) one could reasonably deduce that he is an absolute piece of shit. That said, the album's intimate vocals and gushing melodies will have Elliot Smith and Nick Drake fans convinced they've found their new indie messiah. The biggest knock against the guitar- and vocals-based EP is its brief, 23-minute length. Proof that you can't judge an album by the douche on its cover.
Towers of London How Rude She Was (TVT Records)
I can't tell if this is a complete joke or if Towers of London doesn't take themselves seriously at all. Even if it is just perpetually tongue-in-cheek I still don't buy it. This '80s hair-band, polished metal rubbish is like an oversized gum bubble that pops on your face or a temporary tattoo that won't come off despite repeated scrubbing: It might seem fun at first but, in the end, you just end up sticky and embarrassed.
Paul Salazar At the Helm (Afaith Records)
Paul Salazar's At the Helm, which is in the neo-folk/blues-pop tradition of popular songwriters such as John Mayer and Jack Johnson, is as innovative as it is unencumbered. Salazar seems like he could handle singing anything from a metal ballad to a Seal cover without breaking a sweat. Some of the love-laden lyrics are a bit high on schmaltz and low on substance, but the New Mexico native has put in the work to find his sound. At the Helm is proof that his efforts have paid off.