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coverpic flag US - New Jersey - Full Moon 242 - 05/21/16

East Of Venus
Memory Box
Omnivore Recordings

East Of Venus is said to be sort of a super group of the 'Alternative rock' genre in the New Jersey/New York City area, featuring members of The Feelies, Luna, The Bongos, and Winter Hours. Memory Box is the band's debut album but it is also the band's epitaph: It is an 'post-mortem' hailing of the band's guitarist Michael Carlucci, who died in late 2015 (on October 29th). Memory Box is the first and the last (?) of East Of Venus (from now, EOV), but according to the remaining band members (who dedicated this record to their late band buddy's memory), '[Carlucci's] spirit will forever live on through the music he created.'

EOV were Michael Carlucci (Winter Hours), Glenn Mercer (The Feelies, the Trypes, Yung Wu, Wake Ooloo), Stanley Demeski (The Feelies, the Trypes, Yung Wu, Luna) and Rob Norris (The Bongos, The Zantees, Living With Elephants). Carlucci, Demeski & Norris were also members of a VU cover band called Foggy Notion (with Richard Lloyd and Glenn Mercer among the guest players). Knowing all this (as well as seeing the list of band names in the players CVs), you will not be surprised by hearing Memory Box. You'll find 'stains of' (as in 'influenced by') bands and artists of the 60s and 70s, as well as the 80s: The Byrds and Gene Clark, The Rolling Stones, Buffalo Springfield, The Small Faces and The Faces, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Television, and on and on. Via The Feelies, The Bongos, and, of course Winter Hours as the track "Faded Pictures" was a Winter Hours song from years back. Even other American guitar rock bands come to mind, such as the dB's, Rain Parade and Thin White Rope.

In their time, Winter Hours put out two albums (Leaving Time on Link Records in 1985, and Winter Hours on the Arena Rock label in 1989) before the band split in 1991. Carlucci, who was the owner of NYC's influential record store Subterranean Records, was a beloved musician (you can still see tributes and greetings on his Facebook page) but after the split of Winter Hours, he did not seem do many recordings. 2009 saw the release of the tribute album A Few Uneven Rhymes: A Tribute to the Winter Hours, featuring Members of Violent Femmes (Gordon Gano), The Feelies, Nada Surf (Matthew Caws), Luna, Dumptruck and more (the album had a contribution by Yung Wu, plus another outgrowth of The Feelies: Wild Carnation). Memory Box holds 10 tracks and it is for sure a solid album and a fine memorial of the songs and music of Carlucci and his comrades. Here are three cover songs included: Tim Hardin's "Reason to Believe" (from his debut album, Tim Hardin 1, 1966), The Rolling Stones' "Citadel" (from Their Satanic Majesties Request, 1967), and early 80s band Red Buckets' "Jane September", which is another example of the broad spectre of influences EOV spanned. "Jane September" is an indeed fine song, but one of the finest tracks is the catchy "Who's to Know". The album kicks off with "Let's Find a Way", which is a bouncy guitar rock piece. "In the Sun", and most of the other tracks operates in the lazy shades of the sun, or safely 'dressed' with sunglasses. The songs hold neat guitar playing as well as dry and wry vocals. I mean, all the things to expect from this gang of gentlemen, with the bands/artists they have listened to and the bands they have performed with over the years in mind. Memory Box is far from being mind-blowing but it's good company for sure. R.I.P. Michael Carlucci.

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