The Milk Carton Kids are a contemporary folk duo from Los Angeles, California. Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan formed the group in early 2011, shelving their solo careers in favor of a collaborative project that focused on harmonized vocals, entwined acoustic guitars, and rootsy songwriting. From the very beginning, the Milk Carton Kids worked fast, releasing a live album (Retrospect) in March 2011 and returning three months later with their full-length studio debut, Prologue. Both recordings were released for free via the band's website. The guys toured heavily, too, pulling double duty as Joe Purdy's opening act and backing band during a spring 2011 tour before launching a headlining tour of their own after Prologue's release.
Despite earning comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel, the Civil Wars, and the Everly Brothers, the Milk Carton Kids' minimalist, down-home material had more in common with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings' duets. As a result, Pattengale and Ryan smartly marketed themselves to the Americana crowd. After closing out 2011 with a performance on NPR's roots rock concert program, Mountain Stage, the two spent most of 2012 on the road with other folksy acts, including Old Crow Medicine Show and the Lumineers.