this week for the weekly review, i’m listening to Real Gone, a Tom Waits record from 2004. let’s dig in! i’ve previously covered his 2009 live record, Glitter and Doom as on of the first of these weekly reviews so i was very excited to check out a record where so many tracks were on Glitter and Doom (which makes sense, given that it was only a few years after this record)! rather than mention the overlap directly every time i’m just gonna add an * to each track that had been on Glitter and Doom and mention my old thoughts if they’re relevant

this record opens with the extremely eclectic Top of the Hill. this track feels like a dead end western town in a desert, it’s got a wild charm to it, i can’t help but have a good time with it. Hoist That Rag is the first track here to leap out and steal my heart. the wailing verses, the bittersweet tone of the track, the growling choruses, the incredible solo, the haunted lyrics, this one’s fantastic. i love this track. oh and speaking of haunted, Sins of My Father is such a grim track. something extremely evocative about washing sins in a pond until the water runs over it clear. there’s a lot of fun mirroring or twisting of imagery in this track, but my fave has gotta be “wicked are the branches on the tree of manking / the roots grow upward and the branches grow down”. very very cool. no lie, the track drags a bit for me, but a lot of the imagery is vivid and haunting, and the instrumental components of this track make it a pleasant experience. okay the coolest thing about Shake It, beyond the stumbling meter it’s got, beyond the growl of Waits’ delivery, beyond the kind of fucked up horniness (i mean that affectionately) is the way the mix is split in the verses, with the electric instruments heavy on one side and everything else going wild in the other, esp as it all breaks down in the chorus. it’s such a cool effect. Don’t Go Into That Barn is such a damn moving horror song. esp with the getaway on the coal barge, it’s v good. in How’s It Gonna End, Waits has this almost whisper to him, that after the shouting and high-key moments in Don’t Go Into That Barn has a chilling effect. i enjoyed Metropolitan Glide* before but did not love it prior, but i really love it as a way to ramp back up out of How’s It Gonna End, and it has such a chaotic energy here. for sure one of the stars of the record. man the noises this man makes on this song. Dead and Lovely is nice. it feels very mean to be effusive about the tracks before and then end it there but that p much sums up my feelings on this track, haha. i’ll be entirely honest – i do not remember the live version of Circus*. this track has a stumbling drunk through a place that’s too busy for you vibe. i always have to give props to Tom Waits storytime tracks. like i know all of them have stories to them, but there’s a particular vibe to tracks like this one, yknow? and god what a way this one ends. Trampled Rose* directly followed Metropolitan Glide last time i heard it, but having Circus split the two is a nice pacing decision. i enjoy Trampled Rose, but it ain’t my fave. Green Grass* is a very quiet, subtle track. it’s nice, and i feel appropriate after Trampled Rose. gotta respect Waits for doing his own vocal percussion on Baby Gonna Leave Me – it’s a very good use of layering vocal tracks, haha. oh man and i forgot he continued the trend into Clang Boom Steam – which has a nice thematic throughline from Trampled Rose to here. AND ooh love the transition into Make It Rain*, which has such a subtle start to it, and becomes this jazzy track – thoroughly a good time. Day After Tomorrow, i did not know, is an Iraq protest song! it makes perfect sense, with the content of the track, but i didn’t know it was written with that intention. the somber energy is perfect – conveys that loneliness and longing of missing home. given that Chick a Boom is a bonus track, i think this is a very moving closing track. Chick a Boom is a nice little bit of vocal styling.

faves – Hoist That Rag, Don’t Go Into That Barn, Metropolitan Glide, Make It Rain
dislikes –

i think this is my favorite Tom Waits project i’ve heard, for sure. there’s a lot of the kinda “dark carnie” music im not surprised to hear, but a lotta these tracks are like gothic folk. there’s a kinda of ambling, grooving beat that runs through this album, that combined with the twang and the Waits’ voice, it’s got this kinda dangerous but familiar tone to it that matches all these stories of fucked up people and places. it’s an extremely cool experience, and holistically the album is a very fun experience, because on repeat listens you can get carried away by Waits’ performances barking and growling and wailing, or you can dig into some of the incredibly evocative imagery, or just get carried away by the beat. great time.

Real Gone – 8/10

the selection for this week’s suggestion pool is Herzeleid, a 1995 Rammstein record. i’ll be back next Friday, August 19 for a review, and in the meantime, let me know what album you’d like me to review! (i pool all suggestions in one place, and draw a person, then a pick from that person, so feel free to drop as many as you’d like! if you leave an email or username i’ll contact you when i’ve gotten through all your suggestions.)