You know that feeling you get on a road trip, when everything’s going great? You’ve covered a cool hundred miles in a day, seen some beautiful, funny things, taken your shoes off in the grass…and now it’s dusk and the stereo’s playing your favorite song? Well, that song—at least the feel of it—is the Milk Carton Kids, a besuited, old-fashioned young duo from L.A. whose entire reason for existing may be to charm you and make you feel like everything is just peachy.
The music is seemingly simple: Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan sing together, accompanying their voices with marzipan-sweet melodies picked out on vintage guitars. Some sonic signposts for the Milk Carton Kids’ music would be the Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel, partly because of the singers’ graceful harmonies, which curl around each other like quotation marks, and also through the songs’ humor and subtlety. The duo’s playful name belies its depth and maturity; the gently poetic songs on its new album, The Ash & Clay, have a seasoned ripeness to them.
Indeed, in a recent NPR interview, Ryan remarked that both musicians recently turned 30, and said, “We’re in the unique position of having as much to look back on, to miss and to regret, as we have to look forward to.” That wobbling, wavering balance, and the poise with which the Milk Carton Kids navigate it, is absolutely central to the magic of their music—not to mention their tremendously entertaining (and usually very funny) live shows. So, suggestions for making your spring sweeter: Download some Milk Carton Kids albums (the first two are free on their site). See them play live this week. And what the hell, start planning that road trip.—Sophie Harris
Follow Sophie Harris on Twitter: @SophieMeve