Friday, October 8th, 2004

Bramble Rose

I had decided to go see Tift Merritt at Lee’s last night some time before I knew I’d have a cold, so I briefly considered ditching in favour of staying home and sleeping. Eventually, I elected to dope myself up on medication and head down anyway and I’m glad I did. I liked her first album Bramble Rose well enough but her new one, Tambourine, is a far superior collection. Some have criticized her for branching off from the pretty but rather formulaic of her debut, but her decision to add rock, soul and gospel into the mix has really paid off. In addition to the honeyed twang her voice gives the countrier stuff, she’s a very effective belter on the more up material, evoking at times Luncida or Emmylou.

I had thought Lee’s would be an overly large venue for her, and while it wasn’t packed by any means, she drew a larger and more enthusiastic crowd than I’d expected. Tift and the band’s easy Southern charm made sure everyone was enjoying themselves, even when they were interrupted for several minutes early on by malfunctions in the keyboards department. The set was an excellent mix of gentler, weepier numbers, some performed solo acoustic by Tift, and all-out electric rockers. I was particularly interested to see her guitarist Brad Rice, who was just announced as part of the new Son Volt lineup. No question, the guy can play, but it was hard to picture the flashy and somewhat goofy guy onstage with Tift alongside the dour Jay Farrar. We’ll have to see how that turns out. Anyway, it was a perfectly entertaining and enjoyable show, and I think I’d say that even if I hadn’t been doped to the gills on antihistamines.

More pics to come later – I tried shooting in RAW and they take ages to process. Update: Pics are done, up here.

Also on the slate last night was the advance screening for I Heart Huckabees, the new film from David O Russell. This has been on my short list of most-anticipated movies all year, and I can give it a head-scratching thumbs up. This movie is weird. I mean, it’s about an existential detective agency – how can it not be weird? It’s certainly the most original movie of the year, that’s for sure. I should admit that I have pretty much no background in philosophy, nihilism, existentialism or other such highbrow cosmic issues, so I had no idea if they were talking sense or smack. I did glean enough from the dialogue to have a good enough understanding of what was going on to follow the film, however, and there were enough moments of laugh-out-loud comedy to keep me entertained, even if I may not have appreciated the broader context. The top-notch cast (Jason Schwartzman, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Isabelle Huppert, Mark Wahlberg, Jude Law, Naomi Watts) all seem to be having a good time with the material, Hoffman and Tomlin as the husband-and-wife investigators, in particular. It was also nice to see Schwartzman get a decent post-Rushmore role though his unbelievably thick eyebrows were a little distracting. It’s not a film for everyone, very much a “you get it or you don’t” proposition, but if you go and are willing to not shut off your mind for the duration, it could well be worthwhile. If you’re looking for a popcorn flick, however, keep walking.

np – Mission Of Burma / Vs

By : Frank Yang at 10:31 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. The boss of you says:

    We’re at work today and you are not.

    I am jealous you saw I Heart Huckabees. I would have been your date if you had asked me, then we could have been sick together. Oh well.

    Go see Sean of the Dead! You will love it.

  2. Paul says:

    Tift Merritt is 100% Maria McKee in my mind. At first, I was sort of upset about how she just embodied Maria’s style as her own… then I realized she’d invited her to participate in the recording of the album. That made me (a little) less mad.

  3. craig says:

    Her site says Tambourine was produced by George Drakoulias. I thought there was a bit of a Jayhawks sound to her new album.

  4. mr g says:

    I’ve also been looking forward to Huckabees, and should be seeing it this weekend. The buzz has been mixed, but that hasn’t deterred my interest. And I like oddball, thinking movies – so this should be right up my alley. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it, despite your illness (I’m just finally getting over a nasty cold). Feel better, Frank…

  5. Eugene says:

    great pictures of Tift! She’s been a local favorite here in the U.S. southeast for awhile (her first single came out in 1998). The latest No Depression has a great article on her.

    and it will be interesting to see how Brad manages to record with Son Volt since Tift will be on the road for awhile. She heading out west later this month with Mindy Smith.