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Milk Carton Kids in Royal Oak, 3 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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It just keeps getting bigger -- and, they fell, better, for the Milk Carton Kids.

The Americana duo from Los Angeles explored a more expansive sound on its 2015 album "Monterey," and goes even further on its successor, "All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn't Do," which came out on June 29. Produced by Rochester Adams High School alumnus Joe Henry, the set features a fuller band -- including Wilco's Pat Sansone -- and more intricate, ambitious arrangements.

It's also set Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan on the road with their first full-band tour, filling the Milk Carton with more sound and instrumentation than most fans have heard up to this point...

Pattengale, 36, says that there's "a real through line" between "Monterey" and "All the Things..." "After 'Monterey' we were afforded so much more latitude to come after the heart of a song through production and through arrangement that wasn't predetermined. In our whole career the arrangement has been predetermined. I'm proud of what we can create with just our two guitars and two voices, but there's a certain ceiling you hit or a certain amount of expectations that become a given, and you need to reach beyond that. ('All the Things...') was the first time in our career where we've written songs together whose success was kind of unknown until we got them in the studio."

Pattengale is confident that the results on "All the Things..." speak for themselves. Im very proud of the songs on this record. I think it's our best work to date -- I know everybody says that, but in this case it's actually true. It's equal parts experience and artistic refinement and allowing the songs to do what they do before we interpret them as singers. I think all the material we've done over the past decade happened in one fell sweep and we've done it well, but this project required us to make sure those songs were bulletproof, that you could write down a lead sheet and slip it into the American Songbook hoping that nobody would take them out of there any time soon. That's not necessarily how our other songs came together, but this project required that. We had to be confident in the ideas and confident in the songs themselves."

Touring with a full band now, according to Pattengale, is "kind of like after wearing the same suit for same years, now we've got seven people on stage -- that's a lot of suits to buy, so we've told everybody to wear their street clothes. But in all seriousness it's quite exciting. I had reached a point about two years ago where the live show really felt quite stale. It was time for many a change, but chief among them was getting some excitement back in our show in a way that inspired (Ryan) and I to continue to work together. Newness in the music is the be-all, end-all for us, so it seemed obvious after making albums with more musicians that we should do the same thing with the live show."

The Milk Carton Kids and the Barr Brothers perform Monday, Oct. 22, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 7 p.m. $32-$48. 248-399-2980 or royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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