A Very Serious Review of Hot Country Knights’ ‘The K Is Silent’ Album
Hot Country Knights' debut album is committed. The group never break across 10 songs on The K Is Silent. Not all are equal, but it's not for lack of attention to detail.
Comedy is hard, but the Hot Country Knights are harder. There's a fine line between hilarious and hackneyed that even the most experienced comics cross. It's a line that zigs and zags according to personal tastes, so maybe you didn't literally laugh out loud during "Asphalt" (sample lyric: "There’s one big ‘ol reason why I’m even leaving at all / It’s that asssss-phalt"). Maybe you weren't able to set aside the visual of a "moose knuckle" to shuffle along to song No. 4 on the album. Maybe you felt pity for Terri Clark for having to sit through Big Rhythm Doug's romancin' during "You Make It Hard."
Honestly, if all of those things are true for you, you probably don't get invited to many parties.
Sure, there are dips and flat spots across The K Is Silent ("Then It Rained" is a bit too close to Garth Brooks' "The Thunder Rolls,") but the filler is overshadowed by pearl-clutching wit and reckless willingness to go there. These six men (in real life it's Dierks Bentley and his band) are playing the part of the Trans Am-owning, overly aggressive, trouser-stuffing, much-too-confident guy, you knew (and maybe dated) 25 years ago. Everything is fast, hard and now in their world, and when they get lost, they turn the focus back on their favorite topic: themselves.
The album literally opens and closes with tributes to the Hot Country Knights. Of course this band would introduce themselves with "Hot Country Knights" and of course they'd close with "The USA Begins With US."
The bookend songs really define the album, but they also point to subtle decisions and the strong musicianship that make the project enjoyable. "Pick Her Up" with Travis Tritt doesn't work if the arrangement stinks. "Moose Knuckle Shuffle" isn't fun if it's only a carbon copy of what '90s songs like "Watermelon Crawl" sounded like. We're in a time when it's popular to say everyone with a real live drummer is bringing back the '90s, but nobody really is. A few songs have dialed in on the spirit of the easy-livin' lyrics, but thus far only the Hot Country Knights have teleported us back to the decade. Lyrics aside (a big ask, to be sure), these arrangements work next to any classic song from Tritt, Alan Jackson, Tracy Byrd and John Michael Montgomery.
The fact is, the '90s in country music are remembered as being a little silly, so a great parody needs to be a lot silly. It was when the format melded most awkwardly with rock and pop, and when fashion started to inspire music. Even the most serious singers (Dwight Yoakam, Jackson) wore denim paint instead of blue jeans, and some of the finest songs are remembered as those that best let a man show it off on stage. So when this group does their signature hip thrust during live shows, it's not funny because it's ridiculous. Like so much of the music, it's funny because it's rooted in a little bit of truth.
Watch the Hot Country Knights Sing "Some Girls Do":