The K Is Silent
Dierks Bentley contains multitudes. The country megastar has proven his serious songwriting chops on albums like 2016's Black and 2018's The Mountain, while his early LPs anticipated some of the better hallmarks of bro-country, like laidback lyrics and infectious pop melodies. In 2010, Bentley even stepped away from commercial country to make Up on the Ridge, a bluegrass album featuring genre luminaries like Sam Bush and Stuart Duncan. But nothing compares to Bentley's work with the band Hot Country Knights, who make their long-awaited full-length debut with the Bentley-produced The K Is Silent. Fronted by "Doug Douglason" (a dead ringer for Bentley in a wig, though he'll claim otherwise), the band plays '90s country throwback music with raunchy, often humorous lyrics that offer good-natured critiques of some of country music's worst offenses. "The USA Begins With US" is a pitch-perfect satire of flag-baiting country anthems, while "Wrangler Danger" is a clever new take on the overused image of "painted-on jeans." Another standout track is the Terri Clark-featuring ballad "You Make It Hard," which, unsurprisingly, employs a pretty obvious double entendre to poke fun at schmaltzy duets. While the album treads thematic territory long familiar to country radio listeners, the Knights' sleazy charm, winking delivery, and punny, self-aware lyrics make tailgates and tallboys sound fresh and fun again.