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iTunes Review

With a name that might evoke a five-piece indie rock band with a sassy female singer, Milk Carton Kids are, in fact, a Los Angeles–based Americana folk duo. Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale (who have each released beautiful solo albums worth seeking out on iTunes) play acoustic guitars and are a perfect pair: Ryan brings a Jayhawks twang and edge to Pattengale's gentler Paul Simon–esque flavor, and together their voices produce a magical synergy. Prologue is their first studio album, and it’s full of songs both soothing and bittersweet, scented with longing and reluctant introspection. While one guitar is gently strummed, the other is delicately picked; notes flutter like falling leaves on a gust of regret or hope. The lonely road leading from the aching, gorgeous opener, “Michigan,” to the fragile “Des Moines, IA,” is dotted with haunting specters. “There by Your Side” glows with melancholic sadness. The lovely harmonies of “New York” rise and fall with something like determination, while a genteel hootenanny erupts on the defiant “I Still Want a Little More.”

Customer Reviews


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A great glimpse into what Kenneth and Joe have to offer. This CD is for anyone who is a fan of the singer/songwriter genre of music. I had a chance to see the Kids perform with Joe Purdy a few months ago and it was such a great surprise. They offer a CD on their website called Retrospective that is beyond great also. I wish this duo much success!


I love this record. Just great. I have been a pretty big Joey Ryan fan for years and now am very excited about his new collaboration/band The Milk Carton Kids. I mean seriously, when I heard that Joey formed a band with fellow Los Angeles Singer/Songwriter Kenneth Pattengale, I knew it was going to be good and I let myself hype it up in my mind (even though I try not to do that out of fear of unmet expectations), but when I finally heard this album, it blew me away.

It is just two guitars, two voices, two men finally entering into a hopefully long period of being at the top of their games, recorded live in a studio. It's beautiful. Although it is a pretty sad record as it is full of lament, longing for lost love, and the loneliness of life on the road, it is uplifting. It is pretty sounding, well constructed, melodically beautiful yet harmonically complex, and shows a lot of restraint, even though Kenneth Pattengale plays the hell out of his 1954 Martin 0-15 (which is right up front in the mix, It's hard to know what he's gonna do next! It's rare to hear composed music sound as improvised and free and complex and playful as Kenneth's leads. It's dare I say, American Cubism, but completely in focus, a contradiction? Maybe.). So back to my point, even though it is layered and complex it is simple and lives inside of a very genuinely American canon.

So I mentioned restraint. I really meant it. Depending on how long you've been listening to either Joey or Kenneth's music you may not notice it, but I certainly did. Although there is a lot happening: a lot of ideas, plenty of notes, a spectrum of emotion, a wide palette of colors, there isn't any clutter. No showboating, no unnecessary vocal trills or tricks or gimmicks that less experienced musicians might throw around just because they can. There is not a lot of space on this record (and by space, I mean moments in a song where there is truly nothing vibrating neither guitar string nor vocal chord nor air molecules against each other so that the microphone's diaphragm moves just enough to hear it when you listen to the recording), but it is so well paced that there it really draws you in, and gives you time to think about what you're hearing. Wow, I didn't intend for my review to get so technical. Speaking of restraint, maybe it's time for this writer to show some. Did I mention that I love this record?


Formed: 2011 in Eagle Rock, CA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '10s

The Milk Carton Kids are a contemporary folk duo from Los Angeles, California. Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan formed the group in early 2011, shelving their solo careers in favor of a collaborative project that focused on harmonized vocals, entwined acoustic guitars, and rootsy songwriting. From the very beginning, the Milk Carton Kids worked fast, releasing a live album (Retrospect) in March 2011 and returning three months later with their full-length studio debut, Prologue. Both recordings were...
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