Setting Sun + Quitzow – Fantasurreal + Juice Water

January 01, 1970

 (Young Love)

 

www.youngloverecords.com

 

Setting
Sun is the vision of guitarist/songwriter Gary Levitt and a revolving door of
musicians. Erica Quitzow is usually one of them, singing harmonies and playing
drums, keyboards (in concert she once played both of them simultaneously)
and/or strings. She and seven other musicians join Levitt on album number four,
and while the music has the ease and flow of a real, live band, the focus
remains on the singer. Part of this can be attributed to Levitt’s voice, which holds
a certain compelling quality, thanks to his whispery, bedroom confessional
delivery.  He also has the articulate
lyrics to spew in that style.

 

The
foundation of all the songs on Setting Sun’s Fantasurreal comes from acoustic indie folk. Even when brass,
strings and extra voices are added, they act as trimmings to the strummed
acoustic guitar and rhythm section. Out of the gate, the band combines this
spare background with their love of ’80s synths and percussion in “Driving,”
which describes the mood and the subject matter of this jaunty
two-and-a-half-minute nugget. The feeling gets a little lighthearted in the instrumental
“I Love Mellotrons,” but much of the time, Levitt remains pensive, dealing with
subjects like reincarnation (“One Time Around”) or the Man (“The Sympathetic
CEO”) with lyrics that actually dig deep to set a scene. The voices of Quitzow
and Lawrence Roper (who sings on half the tracks and co-wrote two) add some
yearning harmonies that flesh out the songs, and compliment the baroque folk
feeling created by violin, cello and trumpets that appear regularly.

 

While
Setting Sun seems to be on a journey for deeper meaning, Quitzow – the band as
well as the woman who spearheads it – seems to be all about the pleasure
principle. Synthesizers and programmed dance beats are the order of the day on Juice Water and if you can’t take lyrics
about parties, romantic encounters, their fallouts, and illicit drug taking,
there’s the door. Songs from previous Quitzow releases have appeared in
episodes of Gossip Girl, which makes
perfect sense since they have all the trappings to appeal to the young dance
crowd.  Even if Ms. Q is being ironic,
she’s crafted a rallying call for alpha dogs everywhere in cheerleader chant of
“Whatever”: “Whatever- I do what I want/ I dress up like your new age mom/
Whatever – I do what I want / design your logo with a crappy font,” going on to
describe a life that could be straight out of Lindsay Lohan’s diary.

 

Despite
all this, Juice Water reveals an
underlying depth rather than simply going for the attention of the dancefloor
crowd. “Let Out All the Crazy” breaks down during the bridge with music that
could very well be lifted from a Setting Sun song. “Race Car” and “Race Car II”
find Quitzow settling down for an organic, guitar-driven pop. And though her
lyrics sometimes get lost in the keyboards or the vocoder, the lyric sheet
betrays the fact that Quitzow’s words provide some clever spins on the
aforementioned subject matter. 

 

Standout Tracks: Fantasurreal – “Driving,” “Make You
Real.” Juice Water: “Race Car,” “Let
Out All the Crazy.” MIKE SHANLEY

 

 

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