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Mon­terey The Milk Car­ton Kids Anti/Warner

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

To be prop­erly ap­pre­ci­ated, the Milk Car­ton Kids’ dream­like, be­witch­ing brand of acous­tic duo mu­sic needs to be ac­cessed in a quiet and prefer­ably dark­ened en­vi­ron­ment. Ken­neth Pat­ten­gale and Joey Ryan’s ex­quis­ite vo­cal har­mon­is­ing, in­tri­cate and in­te­grated gui­tar play­ing and ro­man­ti­cally lit­er­ate lyrics in­habit a twi­light zone that’s nei­ther truly tra­di­tional nor con­tem­po­rary. Theirs is a time­less style that con­jures the sound of si­lence and Cal­i­for­nia dreaming — Simon & Gar­funkel circa early 1960s meets the gui­tar pick­ing of Doc and Merle Wat­son and 21st cen­tury nu-folk. It’s pretty and pre­cise, ed­u­cated and easy on the ear, yet teas­ingly elu­sive.

Beau­ti­fully toned Gibson and Martin vin­tage gui­tars over­lap and stretch out be­hind the tight­est vo­cal har­mony to be heard this side of the afore­men­tioned S&G and the Everly Broth­ers. Mas­ter fin­ger­picker Pat­ten­gale and his part­ner in rhyme share a re­mark­able rap­port that’s also re­flected in seam­less song­writ­ing.

The pair’s third al­bum to­gether was recorded on stages and in a church rather than in stu­dios. That may ac­count for the fact it’s a lit­tle more ram­bling than its pre­de­ces­sors in terms of ar­range­ments and its Ker­ouac-es­que on-theroad-rem­i­nis­cent sub­ject mat­ter. While lean­ing on a sim­i­lar sonic pal­ette, Mon­terey has south-of-the-bor­der feel and more pro­tracted Pat­ten­gale gui­tar breaks.

Flaw­less opener Asheville Skies fin­ishes with a His­panic-flavoured gui­tar flour­ish, segu­ing into a Ry Cooder- Paris, Texas- in­flu­enced intro to an aptly named and re­flec­tive song, Get­away, about break­ing out. Rapid-fire blue­grass-styled gui­tar and the sweet­est high har­mony dis­tin­guish High Hopes and The City of Our Lady, the lat­ter an oblique ode to Los An­ge­les. Shoot­ing Shad­ows evokes Simon & Gar­funkel’s

The Boxer; Free­dom has echoes of The Sound Of Si­lence.

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