Tomorrow is Record Store Day, and to commemorate the occasion, Los Angeles trio Ides of Gemini will be releasing the 7″ EP, Carthage / Strange Fruit via Magic Bullet Records. For you vinyl junkies, the 7″ will be a limited edition, one-time-only run of clear and black vinyl—completely unavailable on any date other than April 18, 2015, so remember to get out and support your local vinylery (a word I just made up to mean “record store”).
Side A contains a haunting, five-minute track, entitled—as you might have surmised from the title of this post—“Carthage.” The song opens with a foreboding acoustic passage before Ides of Gemini’s signature thicker, plodding guitars step in and take over. But the vocals…man, those vocals. Sera Timms sounds so much fuller than on their earlier releases, and laces her lines with layering and harmonies that make this track a truly harrowing experience. With the almost orchestral-like harmonies on display, it’s all too easy to forget that this band is merely a three-piece. The song was somehow left off last year’s Old World New Wave, but thankfully, we’ve got it here and now to enjoy.
Side B, on the other hand, is a cover—and not just any cover but one of Billie Holiday’s 1939 recording, “Strange Fruit”—a protest piece written by Abel Meeropol two years prior to Holiday’s take on the tune, in response to numerous lynchings in the early twentieth century. It’s an ambitious undertaking, as the song has been covered by just about every important musician since Billie Holiday first performed it. Still, Ides of Gemini find a way to make it their own recording, with a slow, somber and respectful arrangement that conjures up the struggle of the time. The harmonies are similarly haunting. Overall, the piece is effective on its own, even without the history.
I’m always interested in the evolution of Ides of Gemini. As a band, they mesh influences to include gothic, orchestral and doom elements into their truly unique brand of stoner metal. They are just a very pleasing listen—the type of band you can lose yourself in as the music pours over you like maple syrup. So pick up this 7″ and do some reflective thinking while you drown in its dulcet beauty.