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Folksongs For The Afterlife Press

and the critics swoon:

Glorious debut by these New Yorkers! Engaging, ethereal pop shifting between cinematic and driving with tender lyrics and female vocals. This is destined to be among my favorite records of 2003 as it locks into my affection for touching, melancholy pop blending the styles of Club 8, pre-electroklash Dot Allison (think her brilliant "Afterglow" album without the reliance on shoegazer elements), dreamy Galaxie 500, haunting Azure Ray, early-Beth Orton, retro Mono (UK), tender folksy Rachel Goswell, and shimmering Autour De Lucie.

Collaborators Caroline Schutz and Chris Sizemore first surfaced though a mini-CD on Enraptured Records and have since appeared on a few compilations, but haven't fully expressed themselves until the release of "Put Danger Back In Your Life." It is a spectacular salvo of windswept pop with yearning lyrics revolving around the nature of love and relationships.

The album's beautiful artwork comes from a painting by Mark Miller who has done portraits of The Beatles, Elvis and Pricilla, and Richard Nixon. One of his peices was redone to use as the album cover for Lisa Loeb's "Firecracker" album. His painting of this couple in poppies is the perfect, evocative complement to this spectacular album.

A number of guest musicians perform on the record - some off whom are now full FSFTA members! - notably David Gould (The Bootleg Remedy), Chris Deaner (from Versus offshoot +/- (aka Plus/Minus), Steve Toole, and Chris Seeds (Art Tankers Convoy).

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In traditional folk songs, it seems as though someone is always heading down to the river to shoot their lover (or, if their luck is running low, face the wrong end of that fateful gun). And so it should come as no surprise that Put Danger Back In Your Life, the first full-length release from Brooklyn-based visionaries Folksongs for the Afterlife, spins an extended ode to danger of every stripe. Of course, as fans of Folksongs eponymous 1999 ep will testify " this is not exactly unexplored territory for the band." Folksongs, Caroline Schutz and Chris Sizemore have long evinced a deep understanding of the yearning passions and haunted heart that lurk at the center of those classic ballads of love and loss.

Suffused with minor key melodies and borne aloft by the understated melancholy of Caroline Schutz's hypnotic voice, Put Danger Back In Your Life is a drifting stormcloud of an album, moving easily from the ominous, affecting crackle of "Reunion" to the irresistable sunny-day pop of "Lockaway" without shedding so much as an ounce of focus or power. The pair's strong twining of emotion and musicianship has finally come full flower, producing a mesmerizing song cycle that is at once impressively diverse and perfectly contained. Wrapping traditional acoustic instrumentation within an electro-organic cocoon of samples and solid-state synths, the duo draw an improbable and ultimately irresistible musical throughline that effortlessly connects The Hollies, Massive Attack, My Bloody Valentine and the early 90's dream pop of bands like Lush. Of course, this diversity of influences is to be expected, given the bands musical heritage: Chris' father was a popular Nashville folksinger in the 60's, while Caroline's mum did time as both a USO girl and a smoky-voiced nightclub singer often palling around with an unknown piano pounder by the name of Burt Bacharach.

But still, no simple catalog of influences or storied genealogy can truly do justice to the sounds of Put Danger Back In Your Life only a good listen fully reveals just how engrossing and delightful this album really is. Its eleven tracks delicately construct an emotional and aural adventure that is equal parts heartache and healing, chaos and calm, danger and desire. Ultimately, and without a doubt, it offers a trip down to the river that is well worth the risk.

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"Dream-pop merchants from Brooklyn make LP debut> For those under the impression that the current Brooklyn scene consists entirely of garage-rock rehashes and electroclash posing, the lazy, hazy sound of Folksongs For The Afterlife will set you straight. Like some otherworldly combination of Mazzy Star and vintage My Bloody Valentine, they employ wan female vocals and layers of moody guitar in a mind-bending manner whereby even the uptempo songs feel like ballads. Without venturing into overproduction, "Put Danger Back In Your Life" conjures a rich sound capable of carrying you off into the daydream of your choice." -Uncut Magazine

"Folksongs for the Afterlife are a band who look to the late '80s and early '90s for their inspiration. The album calls to mind some of the best shoegazer and dream pop bands like Lush, Chapterhouse, and Ride without ever being derivative. Put Danger Back in Your Life is their first full-length record, and they sound like they have been making records forever; there isn't a bum note or bad idea on the whole record. As strong as the music is and as memorable as the songs are, the thing that really carries the band is Caroline Schutz's strong voice. Pure and true and cotton candy sweet, she always uses her voice for good and never slips into the evil trap of oversinging& There are up-tempo rushes of sound like the hooky "Lockaway"; country-tinged ballads like "Dark Room," which finds the other guiding force behind Folksongs, Chris Sizemore, chipping in on vocals; moody, atmospheric tracks like the string-bathed "Miles and Miles"; and folky tunes like the British folk-influenced "Ghost." The best song is the last one, "Summer Loop," an absolutely beautiful song with Schutz (and Sizemore) soaring delicately over standup bass, ringing guitars, and disjointed orchestral samples. It sounds like a classic lost Fairport Convention or Pentangle track. Folksongs for the Afterlife are an assured and interesting indie pop band. Seeing Hidden Agenda on the cover of a disc is fast becoming the indie pop seal of approval, and records like Put Danger Back in Your Life are the reason why." - All Music Guide

"Dark-eyed Brooklyn chanteuse Caroline Schutz croons spooky, sample-spiked folk hymns that recall a pared-down Pentangle or a post-millennial Love. Folksongs For The Afterlife's eponymous 1999 EP, a collaboration between Schutz and guitarist-sequencer Chris Sizemore, layered synthesized beats over acoustic strumming and garnered much acclaim, mostly in the UK. But "Put Danger Back In Your Life" makes a bid for stateside attention: backed by a full-fledged band, Schutz is now ready for some all-American summer fun. "Serves you right for trying/To filter out the sweeter sound," Schutz tells a gloomy lover on "Closer To The Ground," and Danger makes the sweetest sounds this side of 1967. Witness the early-Breeders bounce of love-struck "Lockaway," or the Bacharach-style swing of "Did I Let You Down?" On the album's strongest tracks, Schutz channels Neil Young, paying homage to the Godfather of Grunge with searing guitars, atmospheric keyboards and loping vocal melodies that give the CD its haunting, deceptively ingenuous charm. Like fellow alt-rock pinups Liz Phair and Karen O, Schutz studied art at Oberlin. But she's not copping any man-eater poses; even when in amorous pursuit, she's warily looking for love, not more notches on her lipstick case. Even up-tempo numbers hedge their romantic bets, asking "Is love ever enough? Should I even try?" (" You Walked Me Home"). On this album, the answer's a sweetly melancholic, slow-burningly seductive yes." - Timeout New York

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"Until recently, obsessing over British psych folk and idolizing Fairport Convention was considered the height of geekdom. You can't leave the house now without tripping over some floppy-hat-wearing band of longhairs playing jew's harps and triangles. Caroline Schutz and Chris Sizemore have been grooving to Bert Jansch and Shirley Collins longer than you have, and as Folksongs For The Afterlife, they make music that sounds very old and very new, at once atmospheric, drugged out and hauntingly spare.

"I didn't start playing music until way after college," says Schutz. "I was always obsessed with music but felt like I couldn't do it because I had no training. So I opened Spin Magazine one day, and there was this tiny article about Liz Phair. I thought, "Oh, weird. I went to college with a girl names Liz Phair, but she didn't play music." The first line was, " This Oberlin graduate" - She kind of got me off of my ass."

Schutz met fellow Brit-folk enthusiast Sizemore in 1996. "My strength is writing melodies and Chris' strength is coming up with soundscapes," says Schutz. "The sum is greater than its parts."

The result was a sleepy sound that mixed Schutz s acoustic instruments and mellow, breathy vocals (think Lush or Cocteau Twins in their more intelligible moments) with Sizemore's electronic drum tracks and effects-heavy production. After a 1999 EP on U.K. label Enraptured, Sizemore started a family and moved to Florida, curtailing his contribution to the project. Left to her own devices, Schutz brought together a rather unlikely bunch of players, including bassist David Gould (from Western swing outfit the Bootleg Remedy) and drummer Chris Deaner (from Verses offshoot +/-). The group s debut LP, Put Danger Back In Your Life (Hidden Agenda), yields a broad sound, switching between lazy laments and all-out rockers; the songs of danger slip from poppy shoegaze ("You Walked Me Home" ) and dark folk ("Ghost") to slurred wall-of-sound pieces ("Different Light") and at least one track that mixes all of the above styles ("Did I Let You Down").

"I wanted to make an album that wouldn't be monotonous, that would suit every mood, explains Schutz. "I want a really mellow, creepy song, then I want a really fast rock song. I always think about the Breeders Last Splash because it covers so many different bases& I'm a huge Opal fan, too. Dave Roback was really Neil Young-influenced, and so are we. People never pick that out of our music, but I wanted the new album to be dark like that." - Magnet

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On this Brooklyn-based band's recently released full-length debut, "Put Danger Back in Your Life," the front woman Caroline Schutz sings as if her voice were part of the great beyond while throbbing guitars and subtle electronic effects fill out a soundtrack that is tailor made for rainy-afternoon daydreaming. - The New Yorker

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They've got one of the best band names and a sound that replicates a feel you'd expect; melancholic-folk at the core augmented with keyboards, electric guitars, and drums. Mid-tempo and rockin' most of the time, their globs and swirls remind me of pre-Loveless My Bloody Valentine. They just may give you a reason to believe in an afterlife... - The Village Voice

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Folksongs for the Afterlife is a Brooklyn based pop band whose music neatly sidesteps the clique of influences that define the various local scenes that have been grabbing headlines of late. Neither snarling '70s post-punk, nor cool '80s electro-attitude, the band has managed to straddle those trendy decades with a beautiful set of originals that seem to owe a debt to '90s Britpop shoe-gazers, add a dash of '60s girl-group pop, and a large dose of personality and originality. The group has two substantial tricks to up their collective sleeve here: the lush, shimmering vocals of Caroline Schutz, who delivers melancholy and longing with such beauty and restraint that it is hard not to be sucked into her universe, and the multi-layered and compelling production of her main collaborator, Chris Sizemore. Restrained, un-crowded layers of guitar, organ, electric piano, percussion and subtle samples percolate below Schutz's dreamy, intimate melodies, and draw the listener in ever closer. This young band effortlessly drops both buzzing, up-tempo pop and hazy melancholia, and they have created a great album that comes on with little fanfare, and yet delivers far more than expected. A beautiful and satisfying new album that succeeds royally on its own terms. - Other Music

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I love being sucker-punched by great music. It's always nice when a band makes a lovely sound, but when they throw in elements that didn't appear initially, that's when I just lose it. Today, dear readers, while listening to New York-based Folksongs for the Afterlife's debut, Put Danger Back In Your Life, I officially lost it. I'm going to admit it here, I'm only going to say it once, but I just want to clear up any rumors that might develop: I LOVE Folksongs For The Afterlife. I love the singing. I love the guitar parts. I love the noise. I love the charm. I love the little recorded goodies like crickets chirping and scratchy vinyl between songs. I love this record. Period. I first heard Folksongs for the Afterlife on the recent Parasol's Sweet Sixteen collection. The song included on the sampler, "Did I Let You Down?," is a bossa-nova number with a great beat, and lead singer Caroline Schultz sounds just like Astrid Gilberto, all breathy sighs and seductive singing. I wasn't surprised; Parasol's a label that specializes in this kind of music. Every time I listened to the sampler, I almost always started my listen at Folksongs' selection. When Put Danger Back In Your Life arrived in my mailbox, I was excited, because I was expecting the sounds of modern bossa nova pop. What I did not expect was the shimmer and shine of a band with a full, lush, Lush sound. I have a strong feeling that the members of Folksongs for the Afterlife own and know by heart every recorded note that Lush made. It became quite apparent that my initial notions of them being a bossa nova/electronic pop band were way, way off. Sure, that song led me in, and there's a tinge of that kind of sound throughout the album, but it was an emotional bait-and-switch that I fell in love with immediatly. How could I not? Schultz has that voice, which quickly recalls the terribly, terribly-missed Miki Bereyni. You could make a someone a copy of Spooky, slip "Different Light" in the middle, and none would be the wiser for it. All of the talk of Lush should not, however, be construed that Folksongs for the Afterlife are co-opting their style. While it is true that there's a definite inspiration, Folksongs for the Afterlife take that sound to new heights, creating a sound and style all their own. From dazzling dreampop numbers like "Summer Loop" to the utterly blissful pop of "Lockaway" and "Dark Room" and the utterly gorgeous "Did I Let You Down?," Put Danger Back In Your Life is an aural treat that will remind you of all the records that you love, and will happily remind you that good music never goes out of style. A beautiful debut from a wonderful band. Don't call Folksongs for the Afterlife a "band to watch," because they're already here. - Mundane Sounds

 
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