Album Reviews

East of Venus

Memory Box

Artist:     East of Venus

Album:     Memory Box

Label:     Omnivore

Release Date:     04/15/2016


Fabled indie supergroup East Of Venus finally breaks the seal on their tuneful, expertly crafted debut album Memory Box. It’s been a long time coming, as members of the Feelies, Luna, the Bongos and the Winter Hours first assembled under the radar in the mid-2000s to play, with nothing for public consumption to show for it.

Finding the bittersweet gem “Faded Pictures” among other assorted jangle-pop treasures is reward enough for our patience, though one of its creators, Michael Carlucci, has since died. Nostalgic regret and world-weary longing are woven into the tender fabric of “Faded Pictures,” birthed in 1990 by Carlucci’s Winter Hours. Active from 1983 to 1991, his band of star-crossed, alternative-rock hopefuls from New Jersey never recorded it.

East Of Venus, with Carlucci having written all the originals here, gave him a second shot, as he and Glenn Mercer, Stan Demeski and Rob Norris do it justice on Memory Box, like they did before for an old Winter Hours tribute CD. With elegant, silvery guitars tweaking almost every erogenous zone of wistful pop pleasure imaginable, its dreamy melancholy has become even more irresistible.

Those digging further into Memory Box will come across a sparkling “In The Sun,” its simple, understated charms mingling with the easy, freewheeling “Let’s Find a Way” and “You Started Something” and their surefire hooks and racing tempos. A whip-smart, slightly altered cover of Tim Hardin’s “Reason to Believe” accentuates its mix of heartache and hope, while gloom seeps into their wonderfully dusky version of the Rolling Stones’ “Citadel” and a somber “Wishing Well” crashes this perfectly arranged, if reserved, wake for a fallen friend.

– Peter Lindblad

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