This record doesn’t have a lot of direct Joe Henry associations (though he does contribute an essay to the liner notes), but The Milk Carton Kids have been championed by JH pretty much from the get-go (in fact, he contributed vocals to Pattengale’s solo record pre-dating The Kids). The duo’s popularity has exploded since the release of their last album, The Ash & The Clay, but fans will not be disappointed in the follow-up, Monterey, which is out on Anti- Records just this week.
Monterey is a brisk listen and, in my opinion, by far their most cohesive. It’s more than the sum of its excellent songs, and the flow from one track to the next contains an urgency you wouldn’t expect from such a low-key record. Recorded on the road and self-produced, this album represents a perfecting of the format they’ve adopted for themselves.
I recall not too long ago that they had said that they definitely had one more pure acoustic duo album ahead of them, but beyond Monterey, I wonder if we should expect them to branch out musically. Pattengale is a rather accomplished multi-instrumentalist, but they’ve been so successful at their craft, it should be interested to see where The Milk Carton Kids go from here.
That is, after they wrap up their extensive tour, which carries them through to the end of 2015. In the meantime, by all means check out Monterey, as well as this performance of the title track from the studios of World Café: