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Sound Check

When the West Palm Beach trio Friction Farm performed for the first time, in the Downtowner Saloon in Fort Lauderdale in December 1996, nobody knew where they'd come from or what kind of sound the thrifty-looking outsiders would produce. But as the gig got underway, the laid-back members of the skeletal audience inched closer and closer to the stage.

They were drawn, it seemed, by the raw energy of the acoustic band, which is best described as a tall glass of 10,000 Maniacs with a splash of Janis Joplin and a twist of Edie Brickell thrown in.

"If I had to describe our sound, I would call it melodic pop-rock," says vocalist-bassist Christine Stay. (Guitarist-backup vocalist Aidan Quinn provides the melodies, drummer Kevin James the pop-rock.)

Aside from their infectiously hummable tunes, which they performed during last year's LoveFest in Hollywood and will play this Saturday night at Navigators Cyber [email protected] in Davie, the band's focal point is Stay's thoughtful lyrics, which are delivered with an endearingly offbeat soprano.

"Lately I've been more into lyrically oriented songwriters like Paul Simon and Elvis Costello, and they've influenced my songwriting," Stay confesses. "But we're a little more updated."

The songs on the trio's four-song cassette, 12 months wasted time, showcase Stay's powerful lyrics, which are culled from personal experiences. "Wasted" focuses on the difficulties of dealing with an alcoholic. "In the Light" was inspired by Stay's great aunt, who had a unique way of describing the homeless people she'd see mumbling to themselves on the streets of New York City.

"She used to say they're in a 'special light,'" Stay recalls.

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Brian Hyman

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