March 25, 2004

Harry & The Potters "Harry & The Potters"

I think Harry Potter rocks. I'm 23 years old, and I've read all the books and seen the movies. I guess that really isn't incredible, because these books, which got children to start reading again (an incredible feat for a series of books whose volumes last for over 500 pages), have been a crossover success. Lots of adults read them, too, including many indie kids. So, that's why I thought it would be appropriate to review the self-titled debut album from Harry and the Potters.

Yes, there really is a band called Harry and the Potters, and yes, they really play nothing but songs about Harry Potter. I always get the same reactions of disbelief whenever I tell people about this band, and I want to assure you all that this novelty record isn't a joke. Novelty record? Does that mean that it's worthless and not to be taken seriously at all? No, and it's not really a comedy record or just a dumbed-down children's album, either. I'm just calling it a novelty record because never in a million years would you have thought that there would be a band that dresses up like Harry Potter, writes and performs songs from Harry Potter's point of view, and goes out to play libraries. Yes, they do play libraries.

Enough disclaiming! I'm sure that your curiosity is piqued and you want details.

Well, basically, it's probably what the soundtrack an indie pop musical based on the first four Harry Potter books would sound like. Brothers Paul DeGeorge, head of the Eskimo Laboratories label (home to Alexander McGregor, Tristan da Cunha, etc.), and Joe DeGeorge, from Ed and the Refridgerators and other bands, take you through the Harry saga from the beginning of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when he discovers that he's a wizard, to the end of Goblet of Fire when Voldemort returns from obscurity.

It totally works, too! Paul and Joe package their songs in a simple, basic guitar-synth-and-drums indie pop style, and deliver their lyrics in the same sort of semi-deadpan way that They Might Be Giants made famous. They put enough energy and spirit into their songs to make them fun, but not so much that they become melodramatic cheesefests. The most cheesy parts of the album are a couple of faux-rap parts in the final track, "These Days Are Dark", but since those parts are so short and only compose a small portion of the song (and I think they're kind of fun), those infractions are too slight to really spoil everything.

Want some sample lyrics? Okay. Check out this excerpt from one of my favorite tracks, "Save Ginny Weasley". "Are you scared to walk through the hallways? Are you worried that the spiders run away? Are you petrified of being petrified? Are we going to have to save the school again? We've got to save Giny Weasley from the basilisk. We've got to save the school from that unseen horror. We've got to save Ginny Weasley from the basilisk. We've got to save the school again." Simple, but not too simple that an adult couldn't enjoy them. Of course, you have to hear them being sung to fully enjoy them. Remember when I namedropped TMBG earlier? I guess you could put this album on the shelf next to TMBG's No! It's something that the kids can enjoy (no profanity, by the way), but it'll appeal to adults, too. Just like the Harry Potter books!

So, if you love the books, or you're looking for a present for an indie popster/Harry Potter fan, you need to go to the Harry and the Potters website and get the CD. However, if you haven't read all of the first four Harry Potter books, you should wait before getting it. The songs contain a lot of spoilers, and you just might not enjoy them as much if you haven't read the passages that they're based on. And if you don't like the books at all...well, I think it's obvious that you've lost touch with your inner child, and you'll hate this album

--Eric Wolf

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