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Retrospect

by The Milk Carton Kids

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about

Their songs disguise the youth of the members of the band. Befittingly, so do the old guitars they play and old clothing they wear. But to be sure, The Milk Carton Kids have something new to present: harmonies & minimalist instrumentation which are a clear reference to times passed, but with an eye intently on the future; a perspective on coming-of-age in the eye of a present-day storm; and the chronicling of an American struggle for simplicity, at least musically. To present it they use two guitars and two voices, they labor over the arrangements, they record themselves live, and they release their music on their own label, and for free.

A performance by The Milk Carton Kids is a quiet and intricate affair. Kenneth Pattengale & Joey Ryan have enjoyed intently listening audiences across the country and abroad in their respective solo careers, but an even greater sense of urgency and demand of attention is palpable now that they've come together as The Milk Carton Kids. Their songs are written together, but you won't know there is more than one author.  Their history together spans only one short year, but you won't know that either. They stand close together when they play, facing each other and using microphones instead of plugging their guitars in. And if they looked more alike, they'd fool you that they were brothers.

As solo artists they have 10 releases between them. As a band their career is off to an auspicious start. Starting from a highly regarded position among their peers, they've opened for the art-piano-pop critical darling Vienna Teng, Grammy nominated friend and fan Sara Bareilles, and now will take to the entire U.S. and Canada this summer supporting one of the consummate songwriters of their generation, Joe Purdy. Despite the decision to stick to acoustic guitars in their own show, both Ryan and Pattengale are multi-instrumentalists and will also comprise Purdy's backing band, joining him on bass, pedal steel guitar, piano, and harmonies.

Their first collaborative release, RETROSPECT, is a live album due out March 15th, 2011, that represents the culmination of the past year of live performance. A collection of songs from each of their solo careers, written separately but reinterpreted and performed as the duo now called The Milk Carton Kids, RETROSPECT will be released under the name "Kenneth Pattengale & Joey Ryan".

The first official release of The Milk Carton Kids, entitled PROLOGUE, is comprised of original songs written by the duo for this project. It is slated for release later in 2011, on their own Milk Carton Records.

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released 15 March 2011

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Track Name: Permanent
PERMANENT

I think I'm going to work construction
just to make something of myself
I can't live off these childhood trophies on my shelf
I want to get my hands dirty
I want to feel a burning in my legs
i want more than a receipt for what I paid

everybody loves something new
'cause you can open it and plug it in
and it feels like a good night's sleep
like the girl you like paid you a compliment
they can keep the change and they can keep 'em coming they can talk to who's listening
I'm still looking for something a little more permanent

I am not a poet
show me the easy way and I'll do it
no one could ever say that I've been trying way too hard
everything that I have ever owned
got dusty and old
so I threw it out just to make myself some room

I'm like everybody I love something new
'cause you can open it and plug it in
and it feels like a good night's sleep
like the girl you like paid you a compliment
they can keep the change and they can keep 'em coming they can talk to who's listening
I'm still looking for something that I can die with

If my luck is running out
Please don't let it be so with love
It's been a long year, but I'm not ready to give up
Even If I lay ten million bricks
And they break through the summer haze
Someone will come around and bulldoze them down some day

Because everybody loves something new
You get rid of what came before
And it feels like a long hot shower
like getting in your bed when the sheets are warm
So they can keep construction and they can keep em coming and I wont be listening
I found something a little more permanent
I found someone that I can die with
Track Name: Laredo
LAREDO

we lost the train through old Laredo yesterday
you turned your back on the tracks while I held on to those words you said
just let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go whichever way

how dare you run away from all that promise
it's apropos of all the things that we have left behind us, all we'll ever know
just let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go whichever way

your kisses haven't felt like this is honest, your breath is held at bay
wild as the dream I'll never catch and you would sooner chase
just let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go whichever way

I don't know if it's over
right now, this is all that I can say
just let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go whichever way

i'll write the same old song of sorrow the same way
you know the one where this old town can't show them shelter and I can't get away
just let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go whichever way

i see that shallow sheltered promise i proposed falling gently passed a trembling crescent right off your nose
just let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go whichever way
I don't know if it's over
right now, this is all that I can say
just let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go
just let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go whichever way

we lost the train through old Laredo yesterday
you turned your back on the tracks while I held on to the words you said

just let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go
just let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go whichever way
Track Name: Broken Headlights
BROKEN HEADLIGHTS

It hasn't rained hard for the better part of seven months
Everyone's listening
All I see ahead of me are glistening lights
This city stays up at night
Droning along like a dissonant song by an amateur symphony
How come I can only tell you I love you when you're sleeping in the passenger seat?

And all the fast cars with the broken headlights
Run the red lights in the canyon
But I can taste it, the rain is coming
To clear the air over Los Angeles

Maybe it'll bring the hillside down
Maybe it'll flood the streets
Maybe when I tell you that I love you forever
I'm gonna make a fool of me
But I've got the windows down, the heater on my feet
And the skies are opening
It's gonna come pouring down it's gonna come pouring out I'm gonna say everything


And all the fast cars with the broken headlights
Run the red lights in the canyon
But I can taste it, the rain is coming
To clear the air over Los Angeles
The road is winding and it's barely lit
You never know how far you're really gonna get
But when you live here you just learn to get used to it
And all the fast cars and the broken headlights
And running red lights in the canyon
Now it's raining, the haze is drowning
The air is clear over Los Angeles
Track Name: Charlie
CHARLIE

Charlie, I'll make a deal with you
after which you can do anything you want to
I know I've got the leg up, as you're still only made up
but baby you know I wrote this song for you

don't go kissing boys, don't make a lot of noise
let daddy sing his songs, and be real good
just treat your teachers nice and find a healthy appetite
for what you really, really want to do

and if in fact your married before the day I'm buried
follow just my one and only rule
for everything you do just remember through and through
be my best friend 'cause i'll be one for you

Charlie, you'll be strong
Charlie, you'll be smart
Charlie, you'll be anything you want to from the start
Charlie, oh my baby, you'll be every bit the lady
that'll go on breaking this old lonely heart



I know just how you'll be cause you'll be just like me
charming, so alarming & a little crazy
the queen of some sand castle, an abrasive, rowdy hassle but kind and loving, fresh and bright, I know

come to me with problems, I swear, I won't go try to solve 'em
I'll only tell you everything I know
like standing tall was all I had
like boys are bad and love's a fad
that no one ever learns to just let go

Charlie, there's just one little thing before we meet some lovely spring
I have to go and you find you a nice momma
she'll be just like me and you, perfect in just what we do
a love as strong as father and his daughter

Oh, darling, Charlie
Track Name: Maybe It's Time
MAYBE IT'S TIME

Did someone hurt you many years ago?
Did someone desert you when you needed them the most?
And the pain stayed with you everywhere you'd go,
And it's been so long now but you just can't seem to let it go,

Maybe it's time to tell it you don't need it anymore.

Did you lose someone that you loved?
Did they move far off or do you picture them above?
There's an emptiness inside you and it's worse when you're alone,
And it feels so heavy now like you're carrying the weight of a stone,

Maybe it's time to tell it you won't carry it anymore.
We ain't got a long time and there's a lot to do
But first you gotta decide to leave some things behind

Maybe it's time to leave your chains behind

Did you ever love someone so much that you can't explain?
When you're with them it's like thunder keeps rolling through your brain,
Maybe you've had someone before, but this one is not the same,
You can feel it in the depths of your soul but you still can't bring yourself to say it,

Maybe it's time for me to tell you I can be without you anymore.
Track Name: Trouble In These Parts
TROUBLE IN THESE PARTS

beauty, i know, lurks here
right 'round the corner, i fear
dear, you can't be serious
judgement is near
my mind's always gone there
there's trouble here

in these parts that I've found on my own
a solemn and safe little home
slow dance to a lone romance out on the road
my mind's always gone there
there's trouble in these parts here

you'll learn how to fit & right in you'll slip
i'll wait up for you
black turns to blue

beauty, i know, lurks here
right 'round the corner, i fear
dear, you must be serious
mercy, i hear
my mind's always gone there
there's trouble in these parts here

you'll learn how to fit & right in you'll slip
i'll wait up for you
black turns to blue

between all the lines
all four of my sides
to cover me in time
Track Name: Girls, Gather 'Round
GIRLS, GATHER ‘ROUND

"don't you let the lessons stop, time ain't just hands on a clock"
that's what I'm gonna tell Pop when i leave
a vision on the lonely road, it's something that i gotta know: if i can drive this car all on my own

i guess i'll leave my girl behind
i should have done that long ago
sometime I'm sure the pain will go away
it wasn't working anyhow
the burners on the stove burnt out
a shame I didn't figure it out before

girls, gather round and let that long hair down
sing along with me before I go
let us have a drink
and, by god, don't let us think about the things that we ain't never gonna know

i met a man in San Francisco
he told me he did the same thing fifty years ago, he left his gal behind
he sits there in the park one hand is strumming his guitar, songs he found inside a bottle of wine
i saw the same things on his face, the ones that made me race away from everything i'd ever really known
the scare to take responsibility from here -and put her there- where everyone can see the seeds you've sown

girls, gather round and let that long hair down
sing along with me before I go
let us have a drink
and, by god, don't let us think about the things that we ain't never gonna know

if you think about the Creature that you might have thought would teach you that our hearts are just the thing right from the start
it would keep us from the worries, safe from sound and safe from fury, safe at home besides the ones we know we loved
if you told me from the start that I could never be apart from her, I'd tell you, "go to hell, get out of my way" but i've come back with my tail between my legs
I didn't know the way a man can't be a man all on his own

girls, gather round and let that long hair down
i'll sing a song i learned out on the road
let us have a drink but still, by god, don't let us think about the things that we ain't never gonna know

the sun is going down on this lonesome town but i got you here to keep my company
you ever had the feeling that we're living for a reason?
for that reason I won't ever let you go

you ever had the feeling that we're living for a reason?
and for that reason I won't ever let you go
Track Name: As It Must Be
AS IT MUST BE

Maybe we'll come out of this
Maybe we'll come out of this unscathed
Just like the story said
Ever after we shall be okay

I know that you don't know where we go when we go
I know that it's hard so we can't go alone

Let it run right over you
Let it run like water to the sea
Nothing lasts forever darling
Everything is as it must be

I know that you'd never let me go on my own
I know that I'll never make it alone

Look at your reflection
Casting your own image in the stream
Though it moves right through you
Something of you soul remains within
Track Name: Memoirs of an Owned Dog
MEMOIRS OF AN OWNED DOG

the food was as I like it... cold, wet & in that wonderful tin can shape
I had it marked in a paw print on the dog door the day that I finally planned my escape

the milkman, he tried
you can bet I wanted to survive but the truck it just came far too fast
So I write on these scraps, my remembrances past, so you don't blame yourself that I've died

they put horses out to pasture
and the birds come home to roost
ain't nothin' for a puppy but the backyard on the loose
now I know my job was to lie idly beside
the way the sun retreats for the moon

i had dreams of walking the world on my own
four on the floor, every night all alone
i was ready to work for the scruff on my neck
yearning to find something of my own to protect

my bark, then, was surely bigger than my bite
chewing the cud could've been my biggest dog fight
and you know how they say we only hear certain things that you say
well, it never mattered much to me but for the will of the way

they put horses out to pasture
and the birds come home to roost
ain't nothin' for a puppy but the backyard on the loose
now I know my job was to lie idly beside
the way the sun retreats for the moon

now I loosen this collar for a dog bone bow tie
to go up and meet the big dog in the sky
i'll tell him when I get there I was spoiled in your place with the hopes that my spirit is honored by your grace

so after you read this memoir one day
or after you hear my lonesome song play
don't you trouble your mind, this old hound's doin' fine
you know, goodbyes are just words like a clock is to time

so sorry I'm not with you
so sorry I can't be
please know I was the best friend this old mutt could be
if you remember that spot where my favorite tree grows i hung up my leash on a branch, now it's yours
Track Name: Queen Jane
QUEEN JANE

It took me 17 days in the pouring rain and 2000 miles alone
making my way through your kingdom on the wrong side of the road
Eating at the service stations, sleeping in motel rooms
When I leave I'll miss some friends I made, but this time I won't miss you

No and I wont miss these gray skies
That hang over me like fate
Sometimes you think you need something new
then you get it and it's just not the same

Goodbye rain, Goodbye Queen Jane
I'm going home to the Golden State to fix all of my mistakes
Goodbye rain, Goodbye Queen Jane

I ventured in to this foreign land relying on the satellite
Just when you're lost at the roundabout It tells you to go left or go right
But now l long for familiar roads when I know how to take the turns
I can't wait to get out of this place with all of my lessons learned

Goodbye rain, Goodbye Queen Jane
I'm going home, whatever the stakes, never's worse than late
Goodbye rain, Goodbye Queen Jane

I used to think I could love you
But you have proven me wrong
The only thing you've been right about
Is that we don't belong

Goodbye rain, Goodbye Queen Jane
ROCK & ROLL ‘ER

dance her slower
rock, then roll her right
you can whisper what you say but there ain't no better way to start a fight

stand up taller
square your shoulders right
there's no better way to listen than kissin' in the middle of the night

it can be hard I know but a fresh start will show it's right
can't you feel it in the beating of your heart?

an empty chest that beats relentlessly
when you taste it in the air when foul turns to fair you'll know you're free

don't you worry
bet you've heard these cries
ear to ear you'll sing
like the color that you bring into my eyes

it can be hard I know but a fresh start will show it's right
can't you feel it in the beating of your heart?

dance her slower
rock, then her roll her right
can you hear the song that's playin'?
it's perfect way to end a perfect night

time is wasting
get up off your feet
the only one to save you has the very face you've used to capture me
Track Name: Lake Skaneateles
LAKE SKANEATELES

hush'd now august
heat in the air
we’re free and now clear

the Russian's upon us
to greet without care
our innocence

on the side of the road
a dandelion mine
explodes in a cheer

Lake Skaneateles
deep in the heart
of the echoes I hear

and it's you
only you
who takes my breath away

be still Puget Sound
the mountains are out
the wave is in your hair

i've abandoned my pride
cast off with a sigh
and hardly a care

i can dance all alone
to the hush of this song
and swoon unaware

for my silence is yours
my breath is a fort
and i'm holding it there

but it's you, only you, who takes my breath away
only you who takes my breath away
Track Name: California
CALIFORNIA

California, California
Know I love you, California
When I leave I know you wait for me
In the sun and in the weather no one else has loved me better
California you're the place for me

Los Angeles, Los Angeles
My heart goes out to you and if
I make it back I'd love to drive around
Your streets are wide and dirty
You have raised me in a hurry
You're the city of the angels yes indeed

San Francisco, San Francisco
Always busy, you're always pretty
I can see you just across the bay
Your red bridge over the sea keeps me safe and warm and free
On a clear day, theres no place I'd rather be

In the mountains, in the mountains
No one knows you like I do
In summer streams or knee deep in the snow
Just like the giving tree you have made a man of me
Everyone needs someplace beautiful
I think everyone needs someplace beautiful

In the valley, in the valley
Give me life and cradle me
The sun is setting as I drive ahead
Keep us and sustain us
Give us food and love and I trust
That without you we'd all soon be dead

In the forest, all the trees
You make a little child of me
How I long to know what you have seen
All the people who are gone
All the ones who once were strong
Oh won't you keep their fate from claiming me

In the ocean, in the sea
We have seen eternity
How can I tell when you really end
I'll imagine that you lead to other worlds entirely
Where we can save ourselves and start again
Yes we need to save ourselves and start again

Nurse me like a mother
Raise me strong just like my father
Let me wander off, discover who I am
I'll have learned your deepest lessons gathered up your finest blessings
Return to California once again
I'll come home to California once again

California, California
Know I love you, California
When I leave I know you wait for me
Cause in the sun and in the weather
No one else has loved me better
California you're the place for me
California you're the place for me
California won't you save a place for me
Track Name: Like A Cloak
LIKE A CLOAK

Since you've been around honey
It feels just like a cloak has been wrapped around me
and nothing could ever go wrong

Since you've been around honey
it feels like a thousand stones have been lifted off me
and I've never felt so strong

Nobody knows what they should believe
It could be lies
But when I come back home to you I realize I know the only truth
And I have got to let you know
That since you've come along the troubles in my mind have gone
And I insist on being everything
You've wanted for so long