The debut release from the Portland, Ore.-based TK and the Holy Know-Nothings is a mix of country, folk and rock with good results. Frontman Taylor Kingman wrote all nine tracks and handles lead vocals, with his raspy voice being most effective on mellow tunes such as the country ballads "Alone" and "The Devil's Point," the latter a tale of dark nights spent at a seedy strip joint ("Well, I'm drunk and still drinking cheap beer and cheap bourbon/Watching wild women working the pole") that showcases Lewi Longmire on pedal steel.
On some tunes, Kingman's vocals recall such modern folk rockers as Mumford and Sons' Marcus Mumford or the Lumineers' Wesley Schultz, particularly on "Desert Rose," which features hot psychedelic lead guitar licks from Jay Cobb Anderson, and the bluesy "Tunnel of a Dream" with Anderson on harmonica and Sydney Nash on slide guitar.
Stronger compositions are the folksy "Emmanuel" in which Kingman uses an automotive metaphor to document the effects of drug and alcohol abuse ("Now I gotta shift my own busted gears/I'm a manual") while acknowledging continued dependency ("I need my chemicals/To keep this vehicle/On the road"). In the darkly humorous "Lord, Why'd Ya Make Me?" Kingman begins with specific queries such as "why'd you make me so stupid?" and "why'd you make me so ugly" before building to the final desperate, shouted entreaty "why'd you make me, Lord?"
Produced by Kingman along with fellow Portland musician Tyler Thompson, this impressive set was recorded live at the OK Theatre in Enterprise, Ore.. With Kingman's effective monotone vocals, strong compositions and stellar musicianship "Arguably OK" more than adequately lives up to its title.