August 13, 2004

Harry & The Potters "Voldemort Can't Stop The Rock!"

Before you read this review, I have to say two things.

First, if you're not into the Harry Potter books at all, you probably shouldn't read this. Harry and the Potters will not appeal to you. Second, if you are indeed a loyal Harry Potter reader, but haven't heard of Harry and the Potters before, you should be aware that they have already released a CD. In fact, I reviewed their first CD, and you should read that review before reading about this new release.

With that out of the way...

Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock is the continuation of the monumental work that began with the Harry and the Potters' self-titled CD. The first CD immortalized the first four Harry Potter books in song. For the most part, this new CD is "Harry and the Potters and the Order of the Phoenix", with the exception of four songs (I'll detail those later). The duo of Harrys retain their guitar-synth-and-drums indie pop sound, but they get a little more upbeat and outspoken, and even rock out on a couple of songs.

The album begins with two songs that aren't book specific. First, is the title track, a slow, yet anthemic sort of electroclash slowjam (I swear that's a drum machine providing the beats, and they don't play guitar on that song, either). The song is indeed a defiant declaration that Voldemort can't silence their rocking. Bonus points for making the winking reference to Muggle America with the lines, "And we won't let the Dark Lord, ruin our party just like Tipper Gore tried with the PMRC."

The other non-book specific song is "The Weasle". The song begins with the older Harry singing, "They call him the Weasle," but the younger Harry corrects him, since he is not known by that appellation. So, older Harry revises himself with the words, "They don't call him the Weasle, but they should!" It's funnier than it sounds. I probably spoil it by putting it in cold, unemotional text. Anyway, the rest of the song has the Harrys reminiscing about events in the past that concerned Ron Weasley, like the time that Ron's pet rat tried to kill them all, or that time when Ron burped up slugs ("That was so cool!").

The two Goblet of Fire songs are "The Missing Arm of Viktor Krum" and "SPEW". "Viktor Krum" was the result of a fansite contest to come up with a title and subject matter for a song that the Harrys would write and record. The title is a clever reference to a figurine of the Bulgarian Quidditch star and Triwizard champion, the arm of which Ron tore off in a jealous rage when he took Hermione to the Yule Ball. The other Goblet of Fire song, "SPEW", is a short, fast number about Hermione's house elf liberation organization. The verses are simply the word "spew" repeated four times", while the choruses just contain two repetitions of "Do you want to set the house elves free?" Simplistic, but fun.

And that brings us to the Order of the Phoenix songs. First, in case you were wondering, they do address the political tension and intrigue of the source material with three songs. "Cornelius Fudge Is an Ass" is a wake up call to the Minister of Magic, an appeal to listen to Dumbledore and prepare for Voldemort's return.
"Dumbledore's Army" is an anthem of defiance for the group of the same name that Harry started in order to train his friends in defense of the dark arts when the Ministry of Magic wouldn't let them learn defensive techiniques they could use. Finally, there's "Stick it to Dolores", which is just self-explanatory.

Another highlight of the Phoenix songs is "The Human Hosepipe", about Harry's date with Cho Chang. It's one of my favorite negative love songs now. In it, the Harrys detail the awkward events of that lead Cho to crying and storming away from the date, and in the chorus they belt out the simple, yet all-important question, "Cho Chang what have I done?" It reminds me of the Simpsons episode in which Milhouse's dad takes the microphone at Homer and Marge's second wedding reception, singing "Can I Borrow a Feeling?" in a futile effort to win back the love of his ex-wife. Except that the Harrys actually have talent, and "Human Hosepipe" is a good song.

Other standout tracks are "Keeping Secrets From Me" and "The Godfather: Part II". "Secrets" is the hardest rocking song the Harrys have ever done, an angry song about the period at the Dursleys' house in the beginning of the book when Harry thought his friends were ignoring him and not responding to his letters. It reminds me of the title track from Hedwig and the Angry Inch for some reason. It rocks hard, but there's something of a theatricality to it. I'm not exactly sure how to explain it. "Godfather: Part II" is about the terrible fate that befalls Sirius Black near the end of Order of the Phoenix, an impassioned plea to Sirius to "Come back now, come back from beyond the veil." I like the little burst of feedback at the end of the song. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but it was a great punctuation mark to end a song about the most emotionally jarring event of the book.

I could go on about the few other songs on the CD, but I think you want me to get to the point. The point is that Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock is a worthy successor to the self-titled Harry and the Potters CD. I see all the Harrys' recorded material as what the soundtrack to an indie rock musical (or maybe even opera) about Harry Potter would sound like. Because of that, I think that both CDs are essential. If you take away one, it's like only having half a soundtrack album. Oh, and this CD is just as good as the self-titled one. Don't worry, there isn't any drop in musical or lyrical quality here.

--Eric Wolf

Band website:


Anonymous said...

Harry and the Potters rock my socks!!!!
i love them sooo much!!
they can be my lovers too!!

ps: life is moot!!!!!

Anonymous said...

harry and the potters are totally cool!
dude write songs about the 8th book!
coolio dude, peace out

ps. dude