The Savage Animal 12.12.12: First Impression of The Sisters of Mercy
Posted by Mikey MiGo on 12.12.2012
Do we need more 80’s new wave in our lives or have we been exposed to enough? In the 322nd edition of The Savage Animal, Mikey MiGo listens to the three studio albums of 80’s new wave band Sisters of Mercy. This, TLC predictions, a review of Seeking a Friend For The End of The World, and a look at Django Unchained!
I've not been into wrestling lately. I'm like any life-long fan. I go through phases of interest. There will sometimes be a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years in some cases when I just can't find that much excitement in the WWE product. I'll still casually watch. I'll tune into RAW for a few minutes and check out what's going on, I'll read results, spoilers, news, columns, and basically just keep up on it. I still love professional wrestling and the WWE, but right now I'm just in one of those phases. This is my way of trying to take some of the blame off the show. Maybe I'm going into it with too high of expectations. I expect things to be engaging and interesting. I expect the envelope to always be pushed forward. That doesn't mean "hardcore" or "edgy", but at least "progressive". There just isn't enough engaging product on WWE right now. And when this happens and there is a million hours' worth of new content every week its pretty much hell. I watch because I'm used to it, not because I look forward to it. That sucks.
Survivor Series was a let-down. I had to focus for a few minutes to remember what the last PPV was and what the main event was. Ryback's rise is so boring and annoying to me that I'm starting to black out big chunks of the product. I get his push. He's a big monster and kids seem to love him. That's their demographic. I have no problem in characters that are okay for kids, but that doesn't mean they can't be accessible to adults, smarks, and anyone over the age of duh. I'm glad he's not wrestling CM Punk. Instead we get Ryback teaming with Team Hell No against The Sheild. I'm excited as hell to see Dean Ambrose wrestle on my TV. He gets to debut in a match involving Daniel Bryan and it's on pay per view AND it's a TLC match. That is bad ass. Seth and Reigns get this treatment too. This is a match were Ryback can easily get the win and build him up a bit. He probably needs it. But at the same time this is a chance to debut "The Shield" strong and have them get the victory over someone other than Ryback. So I'm going with "The Shield".
Two matches on the show that could have been fun ladder matches are the mid card titles. Kofi and Barrett has been a fun IC Title feud and probably the most entertaining story going on right now that actually translates to in-ring action. I'm thinking Barrett wins the title here. Antonio Cesaro is going to successfully defend his US Title against R-Truth. This would be the perfect time to combine these titles.
Big Show and Sheamus sounds bad on paper. It keeps happening and surprisingly it keeps being entertaining. Big Show could be wrestler of the year in 2012. This time it's a Chairs Match and I'm looking forward to it. This will most likely result in my expectations being mocked. Big Show wins, I guess. Then Dolph Ziggler cashes in! He wins and then the match with Cena is turned into a Ladder Match for the title and is put on LAST. Cena wins. Fade out.
FIRST IMPRESSION OF THE SISTERS OF MERCY
I Had No Idea… All right. Same deal as always. Every few weeks I'll take a few hours out of my life to put on my headphones to take in a new band. Sometimes it's a band I've avoided and sometimes it's a band I just missed the boat on. As much as we all love music we can't possibly take in everything. This means that there are big bands and longtime critically acclaimed artists out there that we've all missed. So what I do is take a listen to bands with three to five studio albums and give an honest first impression. I've tortured myself with listens to the studio albums of bands like Kings of Leon and sometimes I get exposed to a new artist that I'm a huge fan of like a Black Keys or a Simon and Garfunkel. It's all subjective in the end. This is just one honest opinion from fresh ears. Good or bad… either way, I'm open minded and optimistic.
Why The Sisters of Mercy?
Why NOT The Sisters of Mercy? I've always been a fan of random 80's music. I've heard the band name "Sisters of Mercy" thrown around by a lot of goth rock and darker new wave groups as one of their influences. Why not give it a shot? They only had three studio albums in the years they were active, but I guess they still perform. I don't have too much to lose. During the holiday season, time isn't that plentiful so a nice three album listen hits the spot. I'm a fan of groups like Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, and some of The Cure. I'm expecting and hoping for something in that realm of things. Let's see how it goes…
First and Last and Always
(1985 – 46 minutes) - The debut studio release starts off slowly and ominous with "Black Planet". It's a slower tempo synth song. The vocals are deep and droney, in the ballpark of a Peter Murphy and David Bowie. If this is what I'm in to for the next few hours then I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little enthusiastic about the potential. "Walk Away" kicks off with some fancy drumming and a super serious synth melody in the background. It's similar to "Black Planet", but has a very 80's tempo and melody that is a tad cheesy and dated for 2012 ears. The chorus breaks into some soaring vocals that are pretty cool though. The intro and build on "No Time to Cry" is pretty awesome. It's some fine musicianship that soon finds the really deep vocals crooning a song that would have been perfect in the movie "The Lost Boys". The chorus breaks and I break into laughter. Holy shit. What a change-up! It sounds all eerie and good and then into one of the strangest sounding and oddest tempos I've heard. It reminds me of the sound young Forrest made when impersonating the sounds of sex in "Forrest Gump". Yikes. "A Rock and a Hard Place" has a theatric delivery, but the music is almost a constant pulse until it breaks down a little. It works well and is a pretty damn epic synth song. "Marian (version)" feels big as soon as it starts. The opening of it has a cool subtle bounce to it that makes it hard not to nod your head a long to. With loud headphones you just get lost in the layers of sound. I don't know much about this band at all, but I imagine this has to be one of their biggest and best songs. It just feels like a song that I should have heard already. Very well done. A lot of the same can be said for "First and Last and Always". The opening is great. The melody is addicting and it slowly builds into an okay song. The vocal delivery is a little off putting, but the melody and music is so enthralling that it's impossible to not like with intense interest and enjoyment. I was going to call "Possession" a "late album filler track", but I can't. It doesn't grab me as much as a couple songs on here, but the base line is outstanding and I like the way the sparse piano keys compliment it. The stars align on "Nine While Nine", the addicting melody and the vocals complement each other very nicely. Guess what "Amphetamine Logic" is about? It's a slow and brooding song with a really nice base line, but the vocals are too muddied and buried in the song to really resonate. The album ends with the over seven minutes long "Some Kind of Stranger". It starts off with distance and groans and it fades out. Grizzled electric guitars kick in and then the drums and base. The deep vocals come soon after and we soon find ourselves adrift in an odyssey of evil music goodness. Everything you know about 80's synth, goth and spooky rock, glam, doom, classic rock, and things yet to be labeled is all here. It's a bit long, but it does a damn good job in closing out this album and representing the sound of the times and the band in general. I really dug this album. There are some really good songs on here and I can hear where a lot of my favorite bands got some influence. There is some stuff that is a little dated and could be considered "cheesy" or "hokey" to some people, but this stuff is right up my alley in terms of taste. I'm excited to hear their next two albums…
(1987 – 49 minutes) - The band's second album takes wastes no time with not rocking as "Dominion/Mother Russia" kicks us off. This song is in GTA IV and might be one of the most known of the band's discography because of that. It has a bad ass melody and the chorus has sexy backup vocals. The tempo is more aggressive than what we heard on the first album. Cool opener. "Flood I" almost hesitates when it starts, but at over six minutes we have the time. It finally breaks into a really intense synth loop and really spooky atmosphere music. The vocals are kind of distant and just kind of howl under what I can only describe as "audio fog". "Lucretia My Reflection" has a really cool base line, really cool vocals, and really cool everything. It's been covered by a lot of people over the past few years and with good reason. It's gotta be one of the best songs and most definitive of the band's sound I've heard so far. This had to be a single, but then again the melody is pretty intense and might be play well in between whatever else was on the radio at the time. "1959" opens with a pretty beautiful piano introduction that is soon met by the best sung vocals so far. It's more "classically" sung and could give Bowie a run for his money in emotive presentation. The song never switches up. It's just piano and vocals. Powerful stuff. A choir of angels sing as the nearly eleven minute song "This Corrosion" kicks in. At forty seconds in it breaks into the most 80's break-beat/montage song sounding melody ever. It doesn't even sound bad, but the chorus of backup vocals is a bit embarrassing and off putting. It breaks down into some kind of soulful dancing sounding portion about two and half minutes in. It has cool parts, but as a whole it's just ridiculous. It was like they crammed in as much as they could into one really long song. I dug the first one, and "Flood II" starts off cool too. There is a slow build up with distant vocals that break with when the drums come into play. The buildup on "Driven Like the Snow" is really slow. It eventually breaks into a down tempo break beat. The vocals drone over it without much change in melody. At over six minutes long it was a little long for a song that doesn't go much of anywhere. The Sisters of Mercy's sophomore album wraps up with "Neverland (a fragment)". The concept behind it is kind of mind blowing. Eldritch commented that it imagines "the entire population of the earth starting to travel from some indefinable point in space toward the earth at increasing speed. It would take an eternity to reach the earth—by which time you'd be reasonably spiritualized—and even when you reached the destination, you wouldn't actually hit the ground. You'd be going so fast you'd just go through and out the other side, where there is another eternity of nothingness. I just tried to write a song about these impressions." Yeah… Holy shit. I didn't love this album as much as I did the first. You can hear the musical growth in it, but the songs just dragged on a little long. I know, being a fan of the genre, that is common but some of these songs just didn't take the listener anywhere other than a trance. I'm still optimistic about this third album…
(1990 – 43 minutes) - The Sisters of Mercy's third and final studio album was released in 1990. There would still be plenty of tours and side projects, but oddly enough this is the last studio recording. Do they go out strong? Let's find out. We start with "Vision Thing", an aggressive rock tune. The opening guitar riff is bad ass and the first words we hear shouted are "Twenty five whores in the room next door!" That's always sign of a great song. It really is a cool song too. It makes you want to punch things. "Ribbons" is haunting and really cool sounding. It's almost too over the top with its theatrics though, but if that's your thing then you'd love this. I'm in the somewhere in the middle, but it's a fun and well done song. The wirey, almost southern rock opening of "Detonation Boulevard" is fun and almost humorous. Then it goes into a pretty silly song. It's "sassy" and really over the top. Sadly, it's kind of cheesy compared to the other impressive to the other stuff on this one so far. "Something Fast" is a stripped down song. We hear some slight atmosphere as the vocals is joined by a much stripped down acoustic guitar. This is a beautiful track. It reminds me of a Bowie song, but it's completely Andrew Eldritch's best work. This song is way ahead of its time and I'm going to have a hard time not going back to this song really soon. "When You Don't See Me" rocks out like a classic 80's hard rock song. You automatically want to shake your fist and put on as much denim and leather as possible. It's a throw-away, but it's not worth skipping past. The guitar that opens "Doctor Jeep" is awesome. The frantic vocals come in and take us for a really danceable trip. It feels like "montage music", but good never the less. "More" starts off with some epic building synths that lead you to believe this eight plus minute song is going to blow your mind. The layers continue to get added and then everything in taken back down as quiet vocals start to flow through the building tempo. It's all good and fine until the lame soulful backing vocals chime in. It takes me out of the song so badly and makes think of about how dated it sounds. It's an eight minute song so you have time to get over it. It's hard not to dance along to the addicting tempo. By the end of the eight minutes it has strangely grown on me. The final track is "I Was Wrong". It starts off as a pretty traditional sounding rock song. The casual guitar is catchy and the melody is upbeat and all seems good in the evil world that I thought I was in. There is some good and crude irony and points made in the lyrics, but it closes out in a strange way. This album felt scattered. I loved "Something Fast" and "Vision Thing" and "Ribbons" were really solid. I liked the chances being taken here, but I'd still place it above Floodland and below the awesome First and Last and Always.
THE VERDICT (1985 – ????) - I appreciated the two and half hours I spent with The Sisters of Mercy. There is a fair amount of material that sounds super dated from the time frame, but I kind of like that stuff. The darker rock, "goth", new wave, and glam stuff always has a soft spot in my heart. Bowie, Bauhaus, older Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, and all of that stuff are great. I'd say in the realm of describing them, that the Sisters of Mercy are somewhere in between Bowie and Ministry. I could be off base, but that is meant in the kindest of comparisons. There are a few songs that I do want to add to my normal listening rotation, but I don't know about full albums. The debut First and Last and Always was my favorite of the albums. Oddly enough, the stripped down "Something Fast" was my favorite song of the bunch, but there was plenty of solid material to listen to. If you were a fan of the band before I suggest going back and given them another listen. If you like synth rock, darker rock, or theatric 80's music then you should give this a listen. I'm really surprised I haven't crossed paths with this band before. Don't miss out and form your own opinion…
"SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD"
There are certain movies made for certain people. It's the same with any art. Nothing is for the masses, but an audience can be found. In this case, let's talk movies. People just latch on to certain movies. One of the many movies that I have an emotional latch on is "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". That movie isn't for everyone, but is one of my favorites and can blow my mind in what feels like fresh viewings to this day. I got the same "vibe" from "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World". I'm not saying it's a copy or anything like that. It's not. It's just got a practical independent creativity that deals with a certain core emotion in a precise way that is "comfort food" for the viewer's soul. So basically I had my hopes up. WAY up. "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" stars Steve Carell. He's a normal everyday guy who is in the car with his wife when the radio announces that the world will end in three weeks. His wife proceeds to run away, leaving Carell alone for the end of the world. Chaos goes down around him as he tries to go to work and live his normal live out to the end. Hijinks and drama ensue and he ends up hooking up with an awesome quirky girl, played by Keira Knightley. They join up and go on a pre-apocalyptic road trip. They learn more about each other through experience, heart to heart discussions, and meeting a few people from their pasts. Where they're going, why they're going, and who they encounter should be experienced with the movie. There are some great cameos from a variety of characters in a variety of locations and situations. Some of these people include Adam Brody, Connie Britton, Rob Corddry, Patton Oswalt, Rob Huebel, Gillian Jacobs, Amy Schumer, Jim O'Heir, T.J. Miller, Melinda Dillon, Derek Luke, and a few surprises that I'll save for people who still need to see this. And yes, you DO need to see this. Lorene Scafaria's first big movie was "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist". That movie was enjoyable, but didn't quite hit the marks you'd think it would with the cast and trailer. In "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World", those marks are hit. I never get into the "numbers", but this movie didn't have nearly the success it should have in theatres. Was it not promoted well? Bad timing? What was it? This was a beautiful movie. I've been a big fan of Steve Carell since I can remember. Be it TV, supporting roles, lead roles, or anything really. If it involves Steve Carell my tough jaded exterior opens up a bit more. I am having a hard time thinking of a performance of his that I enjoyed more than "Dodge Petersen" in this. I've appreciated Keira Knightley in the past, but she was never someone I'd go out of my way to see. I was worried about her character. In a few of these movies the "quirky awesome girl" can just come off forced. Knightley nailed it. She was more grounded and "eccentric" than a bouncy bubble. It just made you want to see Carell and her get together all that much more. Their chemistry rocked. If you haven't seen this movie, see it. I don't know if you'll like it, but it's a movie that deserves to be taken in and digested however you'd like. If you don't think it's one of the best movies of 2012, one of Steve Carell's best performances, and a credit to everyone involved then you're probably not all that cool but whatever. Just watch it! I plan to again and again in the near and distant future. A!
Quentin Tarantino makes great movies. There is no denying that. There are few filmmakers that have such a bold and loud voice as him. I get and see the complaints and murmurs about him just being a carbon copy of whatever obscure 70's movie he's into at the time. He's a fan of film. What's wrong with that? He's not "ripping off" anything. He's paying homage to what he himself has been entertained and inspired by. I'd like to see him stray more from the standard fare, but that "standard fare" is who QT is. Some movies turn out great and some don't. Regardless, they are HIS movies. Luckily for Tarantino fans, his new project "Django Unchained" looks to be great. When it was first announced the casting sounded really interesting. Will Smith was to be the lead, a freed slave going across America with a German dentist. In order to be freed and to save his enslaved wife from her owner he has to work with the dentist to hunt down and kill some bad guys. Will Smith would have rocked, but instead we get Jamie Foxx. I don't hate Foxx, but I don't have any interest in seeing him in a movie. Sadly, that's my biggest issue from getting super excited. I have to rely on the fact that Tarantino knows what he's doing and the rest of the cast including Christoph Waltz as the dentist, Walton Goggins, Sam Jackson, Bruce Dern, RZA, Robert Carradine, and Jonah Hill will be awesome. Of course I want to see this and so should you.
That's all for this one. The Sisters of Mercy is pretty cool. I'd recommend checking them out and forming your own opinion. Some stuff does sound dated, but there is some genuinely interesting and fun stuff is happening on these albums. Not a bad way to end the first impression series for the year. We finish off the year with a two part series that checks in with the news, happenings, and bullshit that went down in 2012. Content wise it shouldn't be fun, but I'll attempt to make it that way. Until next time… Have a Great Week!