One of the greatest things about being an editor at the Campus Times is the extraordinary amount of free things we receive. For instance, every band that wants their CD advertised will send us a cheap version to review instead of buying advertising space. Putting one of these CDs in to listen to is a truly an act of faith – sometimes you are rewarded and sometimes you wish you were dead.

In an attempt to clean out our mailbox last week, we grabbed six CDs and headed over to Highland Park for some adventures in music. Our expectations were accurate. We experienced both the delight of well-written and masterfully performed music, as well as the agony of clichd wannabes.

Lizzie West, “Holy Road: Freedom Songs”

Lizzie West seems to have a beautiful voice, but it doesn’t show very well in her collection of folksy songs, “Holy Road: Freedom Songs.” West appears to be trying to emulate the voice of Natalie Merchant, but doesn’t quite have the support for pulling it off in this style. West’s album is completely self-written with the exception of one set of lyrics, the classic poem “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep,” which West uses in the song “Prayer.” While her lyrics are abstract, they are able to communicate a message to the listener. Overall, West is decent music to listen to in the background on a sunny day, but it really is just another female folk artist talking about her life.

Boomkat, “”

It’s obvious from merely looking at the debut from “Boom-kat” that they are trying to sell one thing – sex. Interestingly, the duo is a brother and sister duo – not exactly your usual sex selling combo. The duo tries is trying to pull off the usual pop/hip-hop bit that dominates most radio stations with “” On the positive side – they are very good at this. On the flip side, this means they are not particularly original or creative. Despite this, the CD makes for good party music, if nothing else.

Vue, “Babies are for Petting”

Vue offers fans of classic rock a new edge, although they can basically be described as the Rolling Stones, take two. They are surprisingly good at sounding like the 1960’s style of Mick Jagger and if that is what you are looking for, definitely get the CD. Included on the album is the live track, “Find Your Home.” From this example, the band sounds like it would be a good live act, also.

The Forty-Fives, “Fight Dirty”

We got to Highland Park, opened up the jewel case with bated breathe, only to find the CD had been eaten up by the insatiable appetite of the CT office. If you want to be adventurous, try the CD, but we can’t tell you what you’ll find. That’s it. It’s not their fault things get lost in the CT office with the same frequency as boats in the Bermuda Triangle. The lesson – don’t ever leave valuables in the CT office.

7th Standard, “Fire From the Sky”

Two words sum up this CD – bad punk.

The Fire Theft Demos

The ecstasy of a good CD is even more profound when it comes from a homemade case with the copyright written on the CD in Sharpie marker. The Fire Theft was by far the best group we listened to this week. “Chain’s” unusual 6-beat meter grabs your attention and quickly the vocals make sure it won’t be lost. As the first track, “Chain” sets a high standard for the rest of the album and it does not disappoint. All six of the tracks on this demo album are solid and strong. With any luck, we’ll soon be hearing this group on the radio. In the meantime, look the New York based group up if you’re in the area.

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