Tom Waits – Real Gone (2004)
Real Gone is a messy, messy album, and in some ways that’s a good thing. With the beatboxing and the recorded-in-a-bathroom sound, Waits finds a whole new way of being ramshackle, even though by 2004 he had been ramshackle for quite a long time. But the length of the songs and the overall length of the album weakens it. Of the fifteen songs on here, more than half feel a little unnecessary. “Don’t Go Into That Barn” never really goes anywhere (funnily enough), “Top of the Hill” is totally shambolic, and having “Trampled Rose” and “Dead and Lovely” on the same album is just redundant.
I do like the songs from this album more when they’re separated from each other and performed live. “Make it Rain,” in particular, is so much better in live versions.
Favourite track: “Hoist That Rag.” Love Waits barking the title, and the way the song’s complicated and rough at the same time.
Midnight Juggernauts – Dystopia (2007)
I first heard this guitar-based electronica group on a mix album put together by fellow Melbournites Cut Copy. Midnight Juggernauts haven’t achieved Cut Copy’s level of success and, based just on this album, I don’t find them as appealing. They have a big, spacey sound that I like (what you see on the album cover is what you get in the music) but the lyrics are unremarkable, and the vocals have an affected quality I can’t warm up to. They have a few good songs on here, and the rest is just enjoyable for the sound.
Favourite track: “Worlds Converged.” The band often seem to be mixing elements that don’t quite fit together, but the contrasts in this one work really well.
Goldfrapp – Supernature (2005)
My liking for Goldfrapp is largely based on their first album, Felt Mountain, and their singles. They tend to have uneven album tracks, when they’re not dipping into genres that I don’t much like. (I love 80s music, but Head First draws on some of the worst sounds to come out of the decade.) Still, it’s always interesting to see what they’ll try next, and when they’re good, they’re fantastic. That honky tonk piano on “Satin Chic” is weird and wonderful. (No, I haven’t heard Songs of Us yet. Maybe that’s another Goldfrapp album that will work for me in full.)
Favourite track: “Number 1.” A song I can listen to anywhere, anywhen.