TK & the Holy Know-Nothings — The Incredible Heat Machine
TK & the Holy Know-Nothings is a band from Portland that describes its sound as psychedelic doom boogie. While it is a unique description (something every band could use), it is perhaps a little misleading. After all, doom has its roots in bands like Black Sabbath. In this case, the doom is more about the characters in the songs than the sound.
The band’s first album Arguably OK introduced listeners to the twangy grooves that would be at home in any honky tonk. The band brings more of that to the new album The Incredible Heat Machine. It also brings lyrics that demand attention whether they are sung tongue-in-cheek or about a heavy theme. Of the new album, Taylor Kingman said, “The Incredible Heat Machine is a haunted jukebox on wheels and God’s own check engine light. It’s a locomotive composed of living parts linked by some buck-toothed telepathy allowing it to make it down the tracks where there is no final answer or destination, just movement and feeling.”
It’s easy to hear the psychedelic component in songs like “Frankenstein.”‘The guitar produces some spacey sounds with sustained and bent notes. However, there is also some twang in the guitar. Perhaps the best way to describe it is to say it’s what might happen if a jam band played a honky tonk.
The boogie comes through in “Serenity Prayer.” You can hear it especially in the rhythm that will get you moving and the organ that provides a distinct soul sound. The lead guitar sounds like something from a Drive-By Truckers song. Meanwhile, Kingman narrates a story about a person who just can’t get out of his own way. He has a good way of describing this person. One example is when he sings, “I put the pedal to the metal, but I might as well cut the brake line.”
Another good example of the boogie component of this band is “Bottom of the Bottle.” This one immediately gets you moving. Then you hear the lyrics, “That toilet bowl is drunk on last night’s booze. Got my face on the floor silent as a tomb.” Yes, it’s a morning-after song. Kingman perfectly catches the feeling of a morning after a night that got out of hand. “Reaper, where ya hiding?” is a line that is easily relatable for anyone who has ever had such a morning.
If you want a stellar example of Kingman’s prowess as a lyricist, “Hell of a Time” is the song for you. This one has a twangy melody with a minimal beat that could just as easily be in an exotica song. When you listen to the lyrics in this song, it’s hard not to think about John Prine. “I’ve been killing angels. I’ve been killing time. Got a pocketful of halos…I’ve been killing angels. Having a hell of a time.” It’s not just the poetry of the lyrics that is reminiscent of Prine. It’s also the fact that the delivery is partially sung and partially spoken.
The Incredible Heat Machine by TK & the Holy Know-Nothings is a study in excellent songwriting and melodies that get the listener moving. Kingman has a way of telling a story that is vivid in detail and easy to relate to. It’s safe to say that listening to this album will make you want to explore what else the band has to offer. The album will be available everywhere on October 15. Order your copy here.
Taylor Kingman – guitar, vocals
Tyler Thompson – drums
Jay Cobb Anderson- lead guitar, harmonica
Lewi Longmire – bass, pedal steel, lap steel, flugelhorn, mellotron
Sydney Nash – keyboards, bass, slide guitar, cornet