RayLand Baxter shaved his mustache and put the chicken down for his latest release, Imaginary Man. As he has grown as a songwriter and performer since his debut album, Feathers & Fishhooks, he has also honed his team and his flexibility in lineups, ranging from solo to trio with two fiddles, to a full nine-piece band… and a Grateful Dead cover band full of friends. With an engaging tale about why he capitalizes the “L” in the middle of his first name, and how the royal Russian family connects to the Grateful Dead, Baxter tells tales and writes songs that keep you listening.
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As noted in previous entries in this series, the first three tracks of Lifestylei form a breathless triptych. The opening track “Contempt” glides in at mid-pace, the tempo of the track matching its sun-lounger sighs of ennui. The second track “Slave Wages” grabs the baton and sprints away, the quickening of its stride matching its comic-tinged themes of fretfulness and the stress of a hand to mouth existence. Finally, the third track “Treat the New Guy Right” bundles the listener into its back seat and screeches off down the road, its hi-octane revs entirely appropriate to its portrayal of a fiery love affair.
Why couldn’t Rivera get the final three outs in the 2001 World Series? How good could Len Bias really have been? What if the Trailblazers drafted Kevin Durant instead of Greg Oden? When it comes to sports, fans can’t resist the urge to play the what-if game; it’s a temptation that can’t be quelled. There’s simply no answer any of these questions, but it still doesn’t stop fans from pondering these lugubrious thoughts. Simply understanding why something didn’t happen isn’t enough; there’s a pathological need to discern exactly why something that should’ve happened didn’t happen.asso
Caleb Caudle left North Carolina for New Orleans,but the layer that was painted on his heart sent him back home after a few years. After some life changes and hitting the bottom, Caudle is gearing up for his new record.
This conversation about his last release, Paint Another Layer on My Heart, as life was falling apart around him, shows Caudle’s optimism and growth towards a new, more mature songwriting level.
If “Slave Wages” was not an international hit, not number one across the globe, and not the overground smash and instigator of novelty dance crazes it should have been, then “Treat the New Guy Right” was also not the follow-up single that knocked it from the top of the charts and began its own unbroken 20-week run of domination. All of which is not to mourn Lifestyle‘s lack of commercial success, for fretting of that kind frankly is for the birds and bands who make music with cash as their primary motivation, but rather to point up that Lifestyle is perhaps the Silkworm album where that lack of commercial success is so acutely inexplicable, with “Slave Wages” and “Treat the New Guy Right” two of the songs most central to the enigma. The two songs are very different, but one thing they do share is that over-powering ear-burrowing quality which typifies the best pop music. And in that regard, if there is one particular chorus which a first time listener of Lifestyle is likely to find herself singing or rather shouting as the needle hits the run-off groove, it is more than likely to be that of “Treat the New Guy Right”.