The Milk Carton Kids are a folk duo made up of the likable Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale. Their music is reminiscent of another time, yet they’re relatable. They wear suits but they’re laid-back. They’re a contradiction and you can’t help but want to know more.
Number Five: They gave away their first two albums for free because, according to Pattengale, “It was a way of helping to build an audience that was ours and was honest.” The good news? You can still download these albums without charge.
Number Four: They surprise you. You’d probably expect a pair of dry-humored musicians from LA to be dressed more like hipsters than businessmen, but not this pair. They wear suits and ties to their concerts and play 1950s vintage guitars. Pattengale ties a handkerchief above his capo to stop his guitar strings from buzzing and because he likes the way it looks.
Number Three: Ryan and Pattengale have the chemistry of two adolescent brothers who tease and tantalize each other to no end, yet leave the audience charmed instead of irritated. The duo has this song called “Charlie,” written by Pattengale, about the daughter he hopes to someday have. While coolly adjusting his glasses, Ryan introduces the song during a tour stop in Washington DC last year. “Kenneth is going to sing you this next song that he’s written for the daughter that he’s having. Her name will be Charlie; she’ll be named after this song that he wrote from her. A song which espouses Kenneth’s child-rearing philosophy.” Ryan is clever and has comedic timing. “I don’t know where he gets off writing a song about a parenting philosophy. He’s never been a parent before, but I suppose we’ll see how she turns out.” Pattengale starts fingerpicking and just like that, they’ve transitioned into the next song.
Number Two: When they’re not playfully provoking each other, Ryan and Pattengale are making music that’s not quite like what anyone else is doing. There’s no pomp in their performances; it’s just two guys with only their guitars and their whit to rely on. There’s something likable about these guys but not in the celebrity adoration sense; they’re just two charismatic guys with talent.
Number One: Their formation came about naturally. They were both pursuing solo careers while playing in some of the same LA clubs. One day Ryan saw Pattengale performing a song from the perspective of a dead dog, and he couldn’t help himself; he had to talk to the man behind this song. And the rest, as they say, is history.
FDRMX Eyes: Check out James Frost’s music video below. “Nameless” is a haunting and peaceful folk track that will surely keep you on your toes.