Trolling through a number of other ‘best-of-year’ lists over the past few weeks, I came across a description, at PopMatters, of a duo called The Milk Carton Kids. The description sounded appealing (“dueling harmonies . . . gentle, lilting acoustic picking”), and, seeing that they were listed on eMusic, I bought their record. I am glad that I did, and I am having trouble understanding why I hadn’t heard of them before.
The PopMatters blurb marks The Jayhawks as a reference point for their music, and it is indeed an apt and obvious comparison to make: those harmonies! But The Milk Carton Kids are quieter and gentler, more delicate and more shy, than The Jayhawks tended to be. On a few of the songs I think I might hear Nick Drake in the background, and perhaps even (stretching a little further) Simon and Garfunkel. On their homepage one can read an appreciative accolade from Joe Henry.
In any case, it is lovely music. Here is one of the songs from their record, called “Michigan”:
Only after buying the record did I discover that the duo (Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan) also released another album, under their given names, in 2011, and that both records are available for free from their website. Hie thee hence!