The film features The Milk Carton Kids’ songs “The Ash & Clay” and “Jewel of June” as well as their ballad “Snake Eyes,” which plays during a key montage sequence. As band member Kenneth Pattengale explains, “That song [“Snake Eyes”] draws heavily on the themes Gus is exploring, most directly on a sense of nostalgia, which has this wonderfully complex duality to it: at once we revel fondly in the past yet mourn with sadness that it’s gone.”
Van Sant first heard the Los Angeles-based duo of Pattengale and Joey Ryan when they performed in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. The twice-Academy Award-nominated director made a similar musical discovery for his 1997 film Good Will Hunting, fusing the songs of songwriter/musician Elliott Smith with a screenplay co-written by star Damon. Smith went on to receive an Oscar nomination for his song “Miss Misery.”
The Milk Carton Kids’ style has been described by The New York Times as “a sweetly dazzling variation on close-harmony vocals, part Simon and Garfunkel and part Everly Brothers, with occasional acoustic prestidigitation.” NPR called it "gorgeous contemporary folk." While the duo’s most obvious musical reference is the classic folk revival sound of twin acoustic guitars and close harmonies, the band both expands upon and contradicts that rich legacy, creating a sound that is both familiar and beautifully original.
Promised Land, featuring the songs of The Milk Carton Kids, will be released by Focus Features in select cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle on Friday, December 28th; and nationwide on January 4th.