Sound Advice: Milk Carton Kids (Nov. 7)

Folk/Americana duo headlines Taft Theatre

click to enlarge Milk Carton Kids - Photo: Ryan Mastro
Photo: Ryan Mastro
Milk Carton Kids

Over the past six years, Milk Carton Kids has become one of the primary standard bearers for the new millennium perspective on traditional Folk, earning them glowing comparisons to fellow duos like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Everly Brothers and Simon and Garfunkel. Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan began their journey in Eagle Rock, Calif., where both had begun pursuing individual solo careers. Neither had achieved much success alone, but when Ryan saw one of Pattengale's performances, he introduced himself and the pair merged their ambitions to form what would become a fruitful partnership.

The chemistry between Pattengale and Ryan was immediate, as was the reaction to it. They recorded a gig in Ventura, Calif. and released it in 2011 under their own names, ironically titling the album Retrospect. Weeks after the release, the duo performed at South by Southwest, which led to an opening/backing band gig for singer/songwriter Joe Purdy.

Adopting the name Milk Carton Kids, the duo released Prologue, its debut studio album, later on in 2011. NPR quickly cited the track "There By Your Side" as its Song of the Day, and Pop sensation Sara Bareilles tweeted her admiration for Prologue, which attracted the interest of her sizable fan base. To capitalize on the exposure, MCK offered its first two albums as free downloads, where they remain available. To date, the two releases account for nearly a million downloads.

Since then, Milk Carton Kids' trajectory has been a sharp upward spike. Fueled by praise from the likes of T Bone Burnett, Billy Bragg and Garrison Keillor, the band signed to Anti- Records for 2013's The Ash & Clay, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album. In 2014, MCK did the score for indie film Refuge and appeared at the magnificent Inside Llewen Davis concert organized by the film’s creators, the Coen brothers, and Burnett, who executive-produced the soundtrack. 2015 was a busy year for the increasingly in-demand twosome — they played the “Life and Songs of Emmylou Harris” tribute concert (and featured on the subsequent live release taken from the show), collaborated with Country singer Chely Wright for her 2016 album I Am the Rain and issued their universally acclaimed full-length Monterey.

It must be time for new Milk Carton Kids music, because it's always time for new Milk Carton Kids music.


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