The Milk Carton Kids. I've dug their Gillian Welch/Dave Rawlings-like songs on their recordings -- their mix of old-time vocal harmonies, smooth melodies, and bits of guitar dissonance -- but the show took it all to a higher level. (Others will hear the Everly Bros or early Simon and Garfunkel.)
Beautiful ingredients: The between-song banter was somewhere between Richard Thompson and improv comedy, and the guitars were a '50s Gibson and Martin. (Not sure why THIS isn't coming up, but it's one of my favorite songs of theirs -- try it.)
I say all this not just because these guys -- whose new record, The Ash & Clay, is recently out on Anti -- are like a younger/cuter/more talented version of Slowpoke, the acoustic duo I was once in.
Don't take my word for it -- Joe Henry likes em, too.
As strong as the show was, I would have liked to see them encore with a cover -- Townes? Scud Mountain Boys? Delmores? -- or bring onstage Punch Brother Chris Thile, the godlike mandolin player who the Kids sometime open for. Their style is very sharply worked out, but I'd like to see an occasional wrench thrown in to get them moving a bit.
Also enjoyed the opener, a band of very young Tennessee kids called the Barefoot Movement, playing spirited old-time music on guitars, mandolin and double bass.
I'll be keeing my eyes and ears peeled for the Milk Carton Kids.
Notable Chicago: 7/21–7/27
1 hour ago