In time, the Milk Carton Kids will outgrow the unbearable tweeness of its name. In sound and song, the duo of Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan already have. On the 2011 debut Prologue
, the singers combine their dry and delicate voices into a single vision of a poetic Midwest that perhaps only exists in a twenty-something's accidental wisdom and heartache. Songs such as "No Hammer to Hold" and, especially, "Michigan" —
with the lines "When it hurts you'll know it's the right thing/keep your hands where I can see them" —
trump its acoustic guitar-based miniaturism, transcending flannel folk and the Simon and Garfunkel side of the zeitgeist. Recommended By:
Joe Henry, for one, who wrote the copious liner notes, comparing the duo to the Jayhawks and the songs to the films of Elia Kazan.