Portland is notorious for the one summer week when temps break 100 degrees and stores sell out of air conditioners across the city. What your favorite weather app won’t tell you? TK & The Holy Know-Nothings have released their debut album, Arguably OK, and it puts a little heat to it all year round.
Taylor Kingman, the namesake TK, is a rare breed of native Oregonian. He’s the brains behind the lyrics, fearlessly illuminating his perspective in a carefully curated, unpredictable, sometimes raunchy way. Kingman invites listeners to dance on the same page he was on the days, the weeks or the months he was writing the song. Take “Emmanuel,” for example:
When she’s ready for sex, I ain’t ready for sex,
Until I sneak a pill from my bedside chest.
And man, I’m far too young for this, I’m a manual.
While some of us categorize ourselves through the astrological chart or an Enneagram test, Kingman’s self-awareness is shaped by the style of a car’s transmission.
“I find that folks can be described as being either automatics or manuals when it comes to how they get through the day-to-day. An automatic wakes up when the sun comes up, goes to sleep when the sun goes down, they have an appetite when they should, etc. Manuals, on the other hand, need to goose all of these activities along with various chemicals. I’m Emmanuel.”
Kingman masters the self-deprecating country style both in his lyrics and performance, but his old soul has lessons to share beyond his entertaining (and slightly frightening) metaphors. In songs like “Dejavudu” and “Alone,” his poetic rhymes are riddled with philosophic wisdom worth listening to on repeat. If Jack Kerouac were to have a favorite present-day musician, it would probably be TK. On “Tunnel of a Dream,” Kingman sings:
Well, my eyes rolled around till they found my feet walking,
I had a scrape on my knee and I don’t know where I got it.
And I sat down as the sun died down in a colorful fit of glory,
I would wait, but you would never find me.
Not this time, I got lost in the shadows of your mind.
Or on “The Devil’s Point”:
Some nights I might linger,
When these eyes bloom with fingers,
To trace the ink on the sweet skin of strangers.
Safe from the pain of real loving,
Safe from the stain of these hands.
Kingman’s lyrics tempt the introspective side of us to engage more honestly with our own realities. His fellow players, meanwhile, carry the sound straight to our feet as the option of sitting in quiet contemplation dissipates.
Fruity Freaks of The Universe will likely recognize the familiar sounds of Fruition’s Jay Cobb Anderson and his soulful fingers ripping riffs on the guitar. He also shows up on the funky harmonica and backing vocals, while his bandmate Tyler Thompson’s handy work on drums keeps each song impeccably steady—and his solos are reason enough to never miss a live performance. We can even thank Thompson’s mother, Connie Hallen, for additional vocals on “Alone,” accompanied by Janis Carper—listen below. Sydney Nash (Shook Twins) produces magical highs and lows on the keys, guitar, bass and cornet, and a smile never leaves his face during shows. Finally, local hero Lewi Longmire creates curiosity as listeners wonder: How does he have time to hold court at the LaurelThirst, make noise on so many instruments (bass, guitar, pedal steel, flugelhorn, Mellotron) and casually confront “Hard Times” in conversation?
The musicianship and cohesion that TK & The Holy Know-Nothings display make it tough to believe that Arguably OK is their first record together, and it certainly leaves us hungry for more. Put down your copy of On The Road and turn up the heat!
MOST RECENT RELEASE: Arguably OK out now via Mama Bird Recording Co.