The Milk Carton Kids: 2011’s Best Kept Secret

The Milk Carton Kids | Photo Courtesy of Solid Gold

The Milk Carton Kids, AKA Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan, explore musical minimalism in their newest album, Prologue. Prologue was released in the summer of 2011, although its music—the simple product of two men and their guitars—makes for great seasonal therapy as the trees become bare and the sun becomes a privilege.

The Milk Carton Kids | Photo Courtesy of Solid Gold
The Milk Carton Kids | Photo Courtesy of Solid Gold

Prologue has a short and sweet running-time of 34 minutes, and provides all-encompassing music to dedicate your ears to on a long drive or a rainy day in bed: the songs tell narrative tales of hardships and love that inspire listeners’ full attention.

The album contrasts heartfelt ballads such as “There By Your Side” with upbeat, Americana folk tunes such as “I Still Want A Little More”—reminding listeners of the great diversity of sound that Simon & Garfunkel provided in their early works.

Prologue opens with strong vocals and even stronger acoustics in “Michigan,” one of the album’s highest points, and instantly takes a folksy turn in “Undress The World.” Pattengale and Ryan harmonize and strum their guitars in unison throughout the album to maintain their joint aural identity as The Milk Carton Kids.

In Prologue’s Foreword, musician Joe Henry describe Pattengale and Ryan as “a single, shadowy persona within the frame of Prologue–like young twins cast to tag-team one demanding role in a terse-but-tender film by Elia Kazan, haunted and hounded across a lonely landscape in search of the love that might provide their collective character a fleeting taste of both redemption and self-recognition.”

Prologue delivers an altogether soothing experience to listeners with high points resting in the powerful harmonies in “Michigan” and “No Hammer to Hold,” and the upbeat acoustics in “New York.” With Prologue’s release, The Milk Carton Kids join the ranks of the Fleet Foxes and the Avett Brothers as a powerful resource for contemporary folk music—an untapped resource, that is.

Prologue was one of 2011’s best kept secrets, but the secret is bound to get out as Pattengale and Ryan continue their U.S. tour in 2012, keeping the folk genre and the power of lyrics alive.

To learn more about The Milk Carton Kids and download Prologue for free, visit their website at or follow them on Twitter @MilkCartonKids. 


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