R E V I E W
‘Lumos’ album by ‘Harry and the Potters’
Harry and the Potters have recently released their fourth full length album, ‘Lumos’!
“Who are Harry and the Potters?”, you might be asking. Harry and the Potters were the first ‘Wizard Rock’ band, formed in 2002 by two brothers from Massachusetts, USA; Joe and Paul DeGeorge. Their lo-fi indie pop group, who perform songs about the Harry Potter universe, has spawned many others, including Draco and the Malfoys, Ministry of Magic, The Moaning Myrtles, The Mudbloods, and The Whomping Willows. I am not aware of any bands in the genre originating from New Zealand, however.
I got into Harry and the Potters, along with the rest of my family, only recently. This was firstly through rewatching the first few films with the kids (5 and 7), and noticing Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker fronting the ‘The Weird Sisters’, the band that plays at the Yule Ball in the ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ movie. From a search to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me (and finding the band also featured another member of Pulp, and a couple of members of Radiohead), I also discovered the world of ‘Wizard Rock’. After posting on Facebook about my discovery, I then learned that Julian from local bands The Scones and Bitter Defeat had not only seen the band play in Canada, playing with Draco and the Malfoys, but also owned the bands second album, ‘Voldermort Can’t Stop the Rock’. This CD has been living in our car stereo, on repeat, providing the soundtrack to every journey taken with the kids on board (as well as many without) ever since.
‘Lumos’ represents Harry and the Potters first new album in 13 years. Like their previous albums, the lyrics are written in the first-person, from the point-of-view of Harry Potter himself. Songs on this album cover material almost exclusively from the final book in the series, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’, while previous releases covered the preceding books. Overall, the songs on this album are more ‘hi-fi’ than the previous efforts, the brothers having clearly become more proficient on their instruments, and the tracks are overall varied in style. There appears to be something for everyone on here, as members of our family all have their own favourites. [continued below]
The album starts strongly, with the title track Lumos, which sets the scene for the final book in the increasing serious and sombre series; “But then we grew up, and the world grew dark”. This is juxtaposed immediately, however, with second track, You’re not the Wizard, which is musically upbeat, despite it being about Harry’s struggle to reconcile the Dumbledore he knew and admired with what he learns of the wizard's darker past.
An early highlight includes The Trace, a song both musically and lyrically brilliant, about a charm — in the earlier books used to detect magic cast by wizards and witches under the age of 17 — which is repurposed by the Death Eaters in the final book to find people using Voldemort’s name; “Cause you got the Trace, the taboo, they’re always watching you… it’s a police state meant to subjugate”. Another favourite for me currently is Gone Campin’, about Harry’s wish that there was a spell to acquire food, like fish; “Accio salmon, accio tuna, accio pollock, accio grouper….”, and so it continues. What Happened to the Cat? reminds me of Grandaddy, which is interesting given that band had an album titled ‘Just Like the Fambly Cat’, where a similar question is asked; "What Happened to the Family Cat?". Coincidence? Miss 5 loves The Sword, The Cup, & the Dragon, The Trace, and Where’s Ron (due in part to her feministic love of all things Hermione), while Miss 7’s favourite is Hermione’s Army (though, “I like all of them”). My wife, on the other hand, likes the lyrics of the more ‘political’ songs (even if the politics do relate to an entirely fictional wizarding universe), like those in On the Importance of Media Literacy Under Authoritarian Rule and The Trace (“In times of peace, it seems like overreach, and opens the door to misuse in times of war”), and the feminist reflection of Gone Campin’ (“Don’t need a woman to be cooking my meals for me; those gendered roles are antiquated it’s not fair to Hermione”). Overall, this album seems to have something for everyone… provided you are a lover of Harry Potter, of course.
‘Lumos’ contains 16 tracks, and is available as a double LP, a single CD, or can be found on Bandcamp, Spotify, and probably elsewhere. Given this album covers the last of the book series proper, will we eventually get an album covering ‘The Cursed Child? Can we please?
Kia ora koutou katoa! After a lovely wee hibernation HUP has emerged from its acorn-filled burrow and is ready to go for another year! In a somewhat lazy but ultimately genius move, HUP asked Nicola Edwards, bassist and vocalist in Repairs, and Harry Lilley of First Move, to question each other ahead of their show at Nivara Lounge tomorrow night, August 16th, with Flogging A Dead One Horse Town and locals Bitter Defeat. First up, Nicola put four questions to Harry...
Nicola: Congrats on your EP "Provincial Blight" which you've recently released! How has growing up/living in Palmerston North shaped your approach to writing music and lyrics?
Harry: Thanks! I think living in Palmerston North has imbued us with a kind of outsider headspace. We’re not Wellington, we’re not Auckland, we’re not rural really. Something in-between. From the provinces? In some ways its really cool, there are some incredible and way under-rated bands that have emerged from these parts, think Skeptics but also think of all the amazing hometown hero bands we saw growing up here. I feel like here we get this cool freedom to make whatever we want to and all the music community here are into it (or at least the idea of doing your own thing). Not being so worried about keeping up with the latest thing has been great for exploring music from the past and bringing the stuff we love to this band and our new songs. Fraser, Jono, and I are all interested in ‘politics’ and are cognisant of the tensions around us. There’s a continuous clash of old and new, country and town, progressive and conservative attitudes. The songs that make up Provincial Blight have been a great way to explore and express that over the last year or so.
Nicola: The first song off your EP is called 100 Percent. Using 100 characters, how would you describe First Move to the uninitiated?
Harry: We’re Aotearoa noise-rock from Palmerston North. We like big guitar sounds, tight rhythm, and space.
Nicola: You and Martin (Phillips, guitar/vox in Repairs) go back a long way, to his days in god bows to math. Is there anything about the musical direction he's taken with Repairs that surprises you?
Yeah! praise be to god bows to math (re-union tour one day please). When Martin told me he was playing with Repairs I was stoked with his description. Something along the lines of ‘gbtm but inserted some pop’. True to form everything I’ve heard since has been great and it’s been cool to see some of the old ideas and musical idioms infused with a dose of Nic’s thundering bass, healthy accent, and James’ pounding drums.
Nicola: Finally, Shellac, Bailterspace and Slint: steal riffs, steal production or steal members?
Wowee, that’s a good one. We could spin that so many ways. I reckon something like:
Bailterspace - I can’t get enough of the riffs (you can probably tell). Last night I had Capsul play through twice while driving home late.
Slint - Though their members may have slipped into a kind of obscurity since Spiderland, they played some incredible songs with an unparalleled tightness. Don’t ask me which members we’d pinch though, that’d probably change every time we talk about it (they’re all so cool).
Shellac - steal production. Do I really need to explain that any further? (actually don’t ask, the ramble would go on for weeks).
And then, it was Harry's turn to question Nicola about Repairs...
Harry: Since the first (v. awesome) demos you sent through I’ve wondered how your song-writing works. I hear bits of everyone, but does someone write out the song or do you generate them collectively?
Nicola: Our songs are a mixture of approaches! Sometimes Martin will have a partially or fully formed idea of a song, sometimes James or I will start jamming on a riff and a song will just “happen”. Other songs have been more of constant work in progress, where what we started with ends up being very different in both structure and in lyrics. Playing live can be a great way of testing songs out, and developing, tweaking and improving them.
Harry: Tell us about three bands/artists you really admire and draw upon for Repairs that we might not have heard of?
Nicola: Martin has a great playlist on Spotify called “Reference” which is a good starting point for getting an idea of tracks or artists that he in particular will get inspired by. Tropical Fuck Storm is a big one at the moment, as is Bench Press who just came over from Melbourne and all three of us can’t stop raving about! Ditto with Moody Beaches, who have been a bit of a band crush of mine since they played at Whammy earlier this year.
We definitely wear a lot of influences on our chests with our band t-shirt collections though. Plus we seem to be going through a period where working titles for songs are the name of the band that influenced that song. We have one called “Shellac” that we’re hoping to try out live for the first time at Nivara!
Harry: What was the last thing that any of you repaired?
Nicola: Not sure if it counts as repairing… James recently did some much needed maintenance on our car for us that we had no idea needed doing! (thanks James, you’re the best)
Harry: I had the pleasure of listening to your latest release, a split 7” lathe with Flogging a Dead One Horse Town. Could you tell us more about the interesting concept for the split and how it all came together?
Nicola: Initially the lathe cut was thought up as a way to support Peter King. But Martin was the one who came up with the idea of each band covering one of the other’s songs without ever having heard it first. So we sent Flogging the tabs and lyrics for Boxer, and they did the same for us with Shits – it’s been really interesting to hear the similarities and differences between the versions. We’re so excited to be doing the same concept with First Move for another split later this year!
Big thanks to Nicola and Harry for the Q and A! The show takes place tomorrow night, Friday August 16th at Nivara Lounge, doors at 8pm, first band shortly afterwards. Also playing are the wonderfully named (and wonderful sounding) 'Flogging a Dead One Horse Town' and Hamilton's lo-fi indie popsters 'Bitter Defeat'.