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November 3, 2011

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Friend or Foe's new album is rollicking fun

FRIEND or Foe rides the line between steady and swerve. The Shanghai rock band describes the music from its forthcoming album "My Claw is Never Limp" as "being out of control" but has the forethought to present it in a package that couldn't be more perfect if it came wrapped in a bow.

First comes the free listening party for the album, which will be tonight at bar DaDa. The album will be played over the club's speakers at 11pm, followed by a DJ set by Acid Pony Club, the French expat duo that worked on the production of the album.

"My Claw is Never Limp" album release show will be on November 12 at Yuyintang and will feature support from a gaggle of local stalwarts including Duck Fight Goose, Rainbow Danger Club, Acid Pony Club, and DJ Heatwolves. That show is 40 yuan (US$6.30).

The album's content traces its presentation by following its theme of thought out impulse. Songs start with a wide variety of grooves familiar to fans of bands that headlined the Lollapalooza festival tours of the early 90s, like Faith No More, Sublime, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. From the uneasy disco "I Don't Wanna Touch It" to the heavy metal stomp of "Smith and Wesson," Friend or Foe is fun but never inconsequential. And that's when the rug is pulled out from underneath the measured feet of each song.

From the grooves spring explosions, which push the songs into overdrive and reveal their underlying source of tension. "Double Down" is a character study of a middle-aged gambling addict whose big money moves and subsequent adrenaline rushes happen intermittently throughout the track. In "8 Burnt Out Buildings" it's the specter of an unknown future that bubbles to the surface. Lead singer and guitarist Adam "Robshakeh" Crossley points to the "contrary nature in all these songs" which help bring them life.

The band claims that all 10 songs from the album were written in two days, with input given by each of the band's three members. While the songs might have come together quickly, the sound quality of the album is much more fastidious which avoids the thin sound that sometimes effects local releases.

With the rollout of "My Claw is Never Limp," Friend or Foe has put together an excellent entry in this year's Shanghai album releases.


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