There's nothing profound here, and the best lyric out of the bunch might be "Tess, you're a sexy robotron." But these all sound great, for different reasons that all seem to coalesce around memorable melodies and singalong choruses.
The Frontier Brothers -- Space Punk Starlet
Now here's a novelty: a band from Austin, Texas paying homage to David Bowie and The Cure. The PR releases want to bill them as interplanetary rock stars, which is fine, but Bowie did that a long time ago. So I'll just say that they do Bowie with laryngitis very well, and that the synth hooks will warm the heart of any early '80s New Waver.
Matt Mays and El Torpedo -- Terminal Romance
Solid, meat 'n potatoes classic rock modeled on Tom Petty and Neil Young in Crazy Horse mode. Terminal Romance doesn't rival the classic albums it emulates. But it's better than anything Petty or Young have done in the past ten years.
Valencia -- We All Need a Reason to Believe
Sensitive pop punker loses girlfriend in tragic accident: it's a recipe for a musical catastrophe of epic proportions. But that's what we have here, with singer Shane Henderson overemoting for all he's worth, and the band throwing down the power chords and chiming in with anthemic early U2 "Whoah-oh-oh" backing vocals. Normally I would be fairly cynical about the basic building blocks. But Shane sounds so honestly conflicted and hurting, and the band bashes out those power chords so energetically, that I can't help wishing the poor, heartbroken kids well. This is an emo album about hope in the midst of pain: crazy kids. God bless 'em.