The Milk Carton Kids

Recently I woke up with an awkwardly perfect W-shaped bruise on my right foot. I, in my over dramatic fashion, decided it must  be some kind of a sign. I exhausted myself on a W word search that day and ended up going to bed that night with no other answer than it surely meant Win!

The following day, in my morning ritual of smoking and scrolling my homepage on facebook for news, I was directed to a link. The link led to a blog on this very website. The logo to this website is W. Someone, as my friend Melanie put it, had beaten the future into me.

The blog entry was almost painful to read. The blog was:

“If video killed the radio star then the internet, by all means, has hung, drawn and quartered it”​m

In The Golden Groupies blog, poster  declares that the music industry’s end is nigh due to we, the user’s of the internet, being greedy, neglectful, and stupid. Actually, Cassandra, thanks to us and our thirst for free music, many artists that would have otherwise gone no further than playing in dingy bars across a 100 mile diameter have become regularly recognizable names.

Not only that, but the author also made a savage example of The Milk Cartoon Kids: a two-part vocal and guitar duo with a vintage inspired folk sound. I first heard of the pair when Melanie sent me a link to their website and told me I could download the music for free. Naturally, in my ravenous hunger for music offered for free, I leapt at the link as if I were a wild beast that had just found a weak animal to prey on. I had already agreed to go on the four-hour road trip to see them play in Cleveland.

Cassandra is charging the duo with conspiracy to murder in the case of the internet vs. the music industry. To this I must say nay! They are merely generals leading a melodious charge in a war against the modesty of talent against the thirst of profit. There have been four things to withstand all that man’s destructive ways have had to throw at them: Religion, Love, Sex, and Music. The music industry has long been a tyrant on a destructive path to capitalize on all four. Once you’ve listened to The Milk Carton Kids, and witnessed the grace of which they fill the stage with just their voices and guitars, it becomes clear that there is nothing destructive about their mission.

The first listen to Retrospect made the fierceness of Summer fade away and placed me directly into the romance of Fall. Each individual note being plucked seemed to mimic the warm colors that float around with every breeze of the Autumn wind. The scent of pumpkin spice filled the air with the harmonies, as though to warm any part of my body that may have felt chilled. I was curled safely inside my childhood sweater that I thought only I could love on me, until the lyrics walked outside to join me on the back porch; they simply sat down beside me and handed me an oversized mug of coffee with organic sugar and vanilla soymilk, and with sophisticated charm said to me; “I love that sweater on you.” The Milk Carton Kids’ music has a sound that mimics the feelings of falling in love, without sacrificing any of the pain that comes with it.

To only hear the music in recording is to miss out on the beauty of sunsets that awe you into silent appreciation. Joey Ryan was the first of the two I saw on stage. He was noticeably tall and skinny and walked gently across the stage in his button up, slacks, and western boots. When Kenneth Pattengale entered the stage his presence seemed as gentle, and yet demanded attention in his dark blazer. He looked small but powerful in comparison to his lanky counterpart.

Before I knew what was happening, Ryan was introducing himself and Pattengale to explain that they alone were the band in a humorous fashion that had captivated the entire audience. The first song they played was my favorite off the album; Permanent. Ryan graces the stage with a calm sense of being that lets his chord changes move with such fluidity that you forget playing the guitar is something learned. Pattengale attacks the strings with an eerie beauty much to the likes of a Hitchcock classic, and a blinded obedience to the discipline required to obtain such lightning fast plucking. Their two forms then combine to create one singularity of both sound and sight which is unique enough to memorize any audience member.

They’re just as charming when they come off the stage to meet with their fans; even to the bumbling idiot I became, that couldn’t form a proper sentence after Melanie decided I should marry Kenneth. And then informed Joey, who then informed Kenneth. When Kenneth walked into the room I was amazed to see the child like wonder of a man I was seeing on stage disappeared into a tall, charming debonaire of a man. I was terrified of what he must have thought about me standing there stammering at him. But it soon became an inside joke sealed tightly within an experience wrapped neatly in memory. You can’t get that from a recording.

So, you see Cassandra, you’re wrong. This is why the two are completely brilliant in giving the recorded music away for free. When you like the album enough you feel compelled enough to go see a show. Once you’ve seen a live show you realize the recorded music can never live up to the live music ever again. The opposite is overwhelming-ly accurate for the majority of artists in the music industry. Not every artist is a well oiled machine without the aid of technology and it shows when they perform. However, The Milk Carton Kids bring the same well oiled machine from their recordings to the stage. They incorporate story times and stand up in between songs in perfectly timed transitions and punchlines that hold your attention from start to finish, and leave you wanting more.

Click on the picture to visit their website and download Prologue and Retrospect for free!

The Milk Carton Kids


3 thoughts on “The Milk Carton Kids

    • It’s ok, I know that. I realized it during the second read through, but that was already after I had my rough draft nearly complete. I decided not to abandon the project because I really enjoyed writing about the introduction of a new band to my life.

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