I've spent the past couple weeks rekindling my obsession with Tom Waits. Every piece of music he creates exudes passion and truth, dragging listeners into a sinister world of innumerable hapless derelicts. From moving piano ballads to heavy industrial jams, every song is a window into another character. The music is so full, yet so rough and raw. The lyrics are complex and unsettling, yet entirely relatable. Waits embodies the universal down-on-his-luck figure -- the downtrodden hobo with a whiskey-stained voice playing a piano in a New Orleans speakeasy.

This playlist contains some tunes that contain the special qualities that are present in so many Tom Waits songs. Gritty blues, quirky cabaret, folk experimentation -- it's all here. And, in keeping with International month here at Epitonic, I've included a few non-U.S. bands/artists who include this rousing theatricality: Mekons and Marianne Faithfull from the UK, and Ollabelle, which features members from the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Now go ahead and get gritty!