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Review: Totally Knuts: “Fresh, Spooky, & Queer”

Thu, Feb 22, 2018

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Fresh, Spooky, & Queer” is Totally Knuts’ first wizard rock album. As the recipient of a Yes All Witches Grant (video of the announcement here!), TK was able to put out this album using new recording software and microphones. TK wanted to give the wizard rock community more diverse representation through this album, and I’d argue that that goal has been well met.

“They Won’t Let My Wand Through Airport Security” is a perfect song about wizards not understanding Muggle transportation systems. How was this wizard supposed to know about TSA’s policies?! They’re just a peaceful wizard whose broomstick snapped and can’t hang with Floo Powder travel. “I swear I’m not gonna hex you, that’s not what I’m about.” Ultimately, TK leaves the airport defeated: “I left the airport with my wand, but they took my dignity. I just wanted to see my friends. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”

Next is “Expecto Patronum,” a more upbeat song about chasing away bad feelings, and the spell that can help wizards do just that. This song is a cheery reminder of how you can banish your dementors by looking inside yourself, and remembering how far you’ve come: “Just concentrate, I know you can, and think of all the happiness you’ve earned.” (more…)

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Review: Totally Knuts: “Pan Magic”

Mon, Feb 19, 2018

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Totally Knuts’ “Pan Magic” EP isn’t the band’s first official release (stay tuned for our review of their full-length album, “Fresh, Spooky, & Queer”) but it is an excellent preview of what the band has to offer. Let’s get started!

The EP opens with a delightful anthem for Luna: “Being Me.” This song emphasizes Luna’s security in herself, and the knowledge that her true friends embrace her best qualities when the rest of Hogwarts might not. TK’s harmonies on this track are so good, and the ukulele is perfect for Luna’s character.

“Ashanti’s Apocryphal Apothecary” is up next, about a shop in Knockturn Alley that isn’t quite … shall we say, reputable? (Side note: I had to google what “apocryphal” meant, so big kudos to TK for not only using it in a song, but for putting it in the CHORUS and pronouncing it correctly every single time.) I’m not certain that we ever learn about the canonical apothecary owner, but I willingly believe that it’s owned and operated by a woman named Ashanti.  “There’s a witch behind the counter, she’ll stare into your soul. She knows what you are looking for. Drop some Sickles in her bowl.”

Next we go into “Cupid’s Ice Cream Shop,” a cloyingly sweet tune about love and all the forms it can take. Cupid visits the ice cream shop each day, looking for single people to help fall in love: boys, girls, non-binary, and he makes sure to accommodate different sexualities; Cupid doesn’t push people who are aro or ace! Cupid also never gives up on love, and the ice cream shop employees give him a discount every day for his tenacity.

“Another Stupid Love Song” takes a somber turn, in which Remus and Sirius are separated by circumstances and war and how, despite all that, their story isn’t over yet. You would expect the harmonies in this song to reinforce the feeling of melancholy, but instead they are surprisingly uplifting, especially on the last few lines of the chorus: “And with everything we’ve been through/And the things that are still to come/I have a feeling that our story isn’t done.”

TK closes out the EP with “Seamus and Dean,” a delightful waltz about the Yule Ball. This song gives permission for friends to maybe be more than friends, for the sheer fact of the Triwizard Tournament being such a rare occurrence, and the music at the Yule Ball acting as a cover for some feelings you might not be even be sure of yourself. “Years in the future you’ll wonder what the dancers who were there had said,” and “have you seen Seamus and Dean, dancing at the Yule Ball tonight?”

As previously mentioned, this EP is not the band’s first wizard rock album, but it is a fantastic entry point if you’re looking for some more variety in your wizard rock collection. Totally Knuts offers a voice that is unique yet familiar, with lyrics and phrasing that might surprise you beyond that chill ukulele sound.

Find more from Totally Knuts at their Bandcamp page or on Facebook!

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Album Review: “Wizard Rock” by Pottörhead

Fri, Jan 26, 2018

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January brought us a new year, and with it a new release from a brand new band – Germany’s Pottörhead dropped their debut album “Wizard Rock” on us all just a few days into 2018.

When we happened to stumble across one of their introductory videos on Twitter, we knew that we had to get our hands on this release as soon as it came out. It seemed like the band apparated in from seemingly out of nowhere, but after talking with the band’s founder Jutze Schult, we discovered that wasn’t the case at all.

Pottörhead’s debut album brings wizard rock fans 18 tracks of punk & pop (but not pop-punk) tunes inspired by Harry Potter. That seems like a lot of music, but the whole album clocks in at only 37 minutes – the longest song is 3:29 (“Polyjuice Love Ballad”), with the bulk of the songs running at just around 2 minutes long. Jutze, the band’s vocalist and guitarist, said that Pottörhead has a “desire to play catchy rock/power/pop/punk music without overthinking it”, and they nailed that with this release.

Jutze let us know that they’re heavily inspired by The Ramones, Roxette (a number of their songs feature female lead vocals), Motörhead, and Alkaline Trio to name a few, and that’s readily apparent in their musical style. Jutze, along with Lars Battnott on drums/backing vocals and Horst Helmut Kronbichler on bass, first began writing songs in 2013, however by November 2017 they decided it was time to finally hit the studio and get that debut album recorded.

If your idea of wizard rock is based heavily on early Harry and the Potters, then you’re in luck. Pottörhead’s sound reminds me so much of those early wizard rock songs. Slightly irreverent and just a bit tongue in cheek, the music gets in, gets to the hook, and gets right back out. This helps the album move right along and keep the listener engaged; no, the band’s not the greatest musicians or singers in the wizard rock pantheon, but dammit they’re having fun, and you’re going to have fun right alongside them.

The songs themselves hit on lots of topics in the Harry Potter universe… and then a few more. Wanting more books about Harry Potter? Check. Spells going wrong? Check. German wizarding schools? Check. Using magic to get your drummer to play in time? Check (although I think they really meant “bass player” because they mention how much he kept drooling). The pitfalls of bringing polyjuice potion into your marital relations? … Uh, yeah, there’s a song about that too. Likewise a tune about unicorn poop. This release has it all. Literally. According to Jutze, many of the songs began with the idea of a funny title, which isn’t surprising after listening to this album.

There are also plenty of pop-culture and current references in the songs too, which in their own unique way may make the band more accessible. Monsanto, John Fogerty, veganism, ZZ Top, Edward Snowden, and a whole bunch of current actors that don’t actually appear in the HP movies are all namechecked at various points throughout the album, if not being the outright subject matter of the song at hand.

We mentioned this above, but it’s going to get repeated again – this album is FUN. Also, it’s FREE. Well, technically it’s Name Your Price at Bandcamp, and yes $0.00 is an option, but we highly recommend naming a small price just as a way to say THANKS to Pottörhead for their time and effort to release EIGHTEEN songs for us all to enjoy.

If you dig the band and want to encourage them to release more wizard rock, be sure to follow their Tumblr page after you download/buy their album “Wizard Rock” on Bandcamp. Then, kick back with some black coffee and organic butterbeer, and crank up Pottörhead as loud as you can.

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Review: Shauna Carrick “Songs from Hogwarts” EP

Tue, Jan 9, 2018

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Ireland has long been a welcoming home to fantastic wizard rock (hello, Romilda Vane and the Chocolate Cauldrons!) and they’ve gifted us with another amazingly talented musician – Shauna Carrick.

Shauna recently released her first EP on Bandcamp, “Songs from Hogwarts” in November, and it’s comprised of 5 quick but fun tunes that will be sure to get you singing along in no time at all.

The EP kicks off with “Slytherins Have More Fun”, an ode to the fact that Slytherins have a heck of a lot of fun, regardless of what all those other jealous houses say about them behind their backs. The chorus harmony vocals are a delight, and it’s impossible to listen to this song without tapping your foot… even if you’re a Gryffindor.

“We Fight” brings us Shauna’s voice against a solo acoustic guitar, and some impassioned lyrics exhorting the defenders of Hogwarts to stand and defend their castle during Deathly Hallows. The chorus of this song is guaranteed to get stuck in your head.

Shauna’s ukulele comes back out for “Justice for Lavender”, a song that gives Lavender her due for putting up with Ron’s crap and fighting valiantly during the Battle of Hogwarts. Her fate remains unknown in canon, and Shauna hopes that she made it through the battle OK.

Cho Chang gets a turn in the spotlight with “(Cho Chang) It’s Not Your Fault”, with Shauna correctly pointing out that she had a whole heck of a lot to deal with as a young teenager, and she still came back to Hogwarts to help fight.

The EP concludes with “Something Cute About Friendship”, a meta-wrock song about all the wonderful friendships that wizard rock has brought to Shauna’s life. I’m pretty sure all of us can identify the sentiment behind this upbeat closer.

Do you like wizard rock? Do you like well-written songs about Harry Potter? Do you like good music in general? If you answered YES to any of the above (and you should have said YES to all three), then head on over to Bandcamp to purchase “Songs from Hogwarts“, give Shauna a follow on Twitter, and have fun wrocking out.

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Review: [Explicit] MC Gryf: Witches Ain’t Shit

Sun, Jan 7, 2018

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Note: This EP is not remotely safe for work or sensitive ears.

MC Gryf asserts himself from the very first verse of “Where My Mudbloods At?”: “I been writin’ rhymes since Albus Dumbledore bit the dust.” This first entry on his “Witches Ain’t Shit” EP is an aggressive one, with MC Gryf talking shit on Slytherin House, while also celebrating his status as a mudblood. “They hate on Hermione, a mudblood just like me, if you wanna draw that wand and throw a curse then just try me.”

“Marauder’s Map Rap” opens with a synth-heavy narration of the introduction to the map we all know and love. He also throws in a Gandalf quote, which made this reviewer’s nerdy heart skip a beat: “I might be showing up a minute later than you, but a wizard shows up exactly when he means to.” What follows is a walk-through of MC Gryf spying on each House in their common rooms. Ravenclaw: “They’re just sittin’ there studying, being boring as balls.” Hufflepuff: “Cedric Diggory’s got a big-ass line of witches to bone.” Slytherin: “Oh my God, what a mess, Draco’s tryin’ to rhyme and ain’t nobody impressed.” Based on those assessments, it should come as no surprise that Gryffindor gets the most praise in this song.

“Hit It Like a Hufflepuff” is a raucous, raunchy anthem akin to old school Swish and Flick jams. The phrase “let me show you my Elder Wand” appears, and that should be all you need to know. Next up, “I Got Magic Flow” demonstrates exactly that. This song is a slower tempo, which lets MC Gryf rap with a chill, quiet confidence.

The last track, “We’re Brave,” opens with a drum and bass line reminiscent of your favorite Janet Jackson jam. MC Gryf espouses the traits of his house: Gryffindor’s don’t quit, even when there’s a whole world telling you that your worst fears are going to come true. “Bravery is feelin’ fear and goin’ in anyway.” The rest of the song is more uplifting than any other track on the EP. MC Gryf raps about how, if you really want to be brave, don’t give up on your dreams: “walk for it, run for it, apparate or fly for it, fight for it, cry for it.” In MC Gryf’s eyes and final song, we’re *all* brave, and we all have a capacity to *be* brave.

To finish, I need to be completely honest with you, readers. I wish I could have just given you a transcript of every single verse on this entire EP. That’s how good it is. Every single line is a true gem of wizard rap. Go check out his Valentine’s single, too: Chocolate Cauldrons of Love.

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Review: Nevertheless, I Persisted (Myrtle Elizabeth Warren) – The Moaning Myrtles

Fri, Jan 5, 2018

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The last time the Moaning Myrtles put out a full-length album, we were still waiting on three more Harry Potter movies. The last time they toured, we were barely into this decade. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise when I found out that Lauren and Nina decided to play not one, not two, but THREE reunion shows at the Yule Balls this past year. When I found out there was going to be new music, it was really hard to contain myself. Normally, there wouldn’t be a full review on just a single, but given that this is the Moaning Myrtles, complete with reunion mini-tour, this had to be written as soon as the video was released.

Courtesy of Jenn Levine

“Nevertheless, I Persisted (Myrtle Elizabeth Warren)” is a straight up JAM. I’m not lying when I say that the tune’s been stuck in my head since hearing it on Geek Beat during the Boston Yule Ball.

The story behind the song is pretty interesting – it’s based off of Moaning Myrtle’s introduction to Scorpius and Al in Cursed Child, but it has a uniquely Lauren-and-Nina twist to it. According to Lauren, “JK Rowling tweeted a little while ago that Myrtle’s full name is Myrtle Elizabeth Warren. She then realized that the name sounded familiar, but by then it was too late to take back her unintentional nod to the senator. Myrtle ends up introducing herself to Harry and Draco’s children in the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child using her full name, and we just couldn’t not write a weird human rights anthem bouncing off of this pretty funny tidbit.”

The lyrics are classic Moaning Myrtles personality wise, but they also remind me a lot of Nina’s solo album “Cliches” that she released back in 2008, which featured many witty political-themed songs. It’s definitely more fast paced than a lot of previous Myrtles releases, which makes it sound a lot like Lauren’s more recent solo stuff. All in all, it’s a fantastic combination of composition and lyrics that shows how much both Lauren and Nina have matured as musicians over the ten years since their last release – and how they’ve stayed true to the original identity of their band.

“Nevertheless, I Persisted” is a rallying cry for all wizard rock fans to not only jump back into the scene again, but to stand up and make a difference and fight for what they believe in. Lines like “So call your reps and join the fight” and “When people tried to silence me/I stood my ground and I resisted” not only allude to the current political climate, they bring back memories of popular wrock songs past that were anti-George W. Bush allegories.

Although there’s been no word from either Lauren or Nina (yet) about formally recording this song and making it available for purchase in the future, Lauren put up the live (and full band!) version with professional audio from Geek Beat on her YouTube channel. If you turn on the closed captions, the lyrics will pop up and you can sing along!

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Review: americanquidditch demos

Thu, Jan 4, 2018

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This Name Your Price wizard rock EP comes to us from Cincinnati, Ohio’s This Is My Nightmare (seriously, there’s a lot of wizard rock in Ohio). The project appears to be a solo act, with all of the songs (along with their other non-wrock releases) being just a single voice and acoustic guitar. Fans of lo-fi wrock will definitely gravitate towards this release, especially if tongue-in-cheek pop punk is their thing. The EP’s liner notes let us know that the entire release was recorded on a phone, save for the last track that was recorded via built-in mic on an iMac.

Yes, This Is My Nightmare would have fit in perfectly on MySpace during the initial wizard rock explosion.

The EP’s cover evokes the iconic first (and up until recently, only) release from American Football. Listeners waiting for the quiet chiming guitars and earnest vocals of that band won’t get what they want, however, as the EP kicks off with the fast paced “Growing Up Magic”, a tale of an auror who feels like their high point in life was their time at Hogwarts, and wondering if their former classmates might feel the same.

“Muggle Dueling Club” gives us a protagonist who grew up muggle, and would prefer to resolve their differences with fists rather than a wand. The acoustic pop punk continues on “Is This Thing Still On?” which finds our protagonist apologizing slightly profanely to someone from their past about how their relationship deteriorated sine they left Hogwarts.

The next track “Everything’s Coming up Mudbloods” sounds like it could have come from Saves The Day’s first album, clocking in at a whopping 47 seconds and poking fun at all the purebloods who think they’re so cool but can’t ever seem to come out on top of anything.

“OTP ’91, or If We Went To Hogwarts” closes out the album with another short, but sweet, tune about how much two seemingly opposite students at Hogwarts can fall in love. Tempo is sort of a floating construct on this song, but that’s OK – the tune is simple, to the point, and a worthy closing track.

The americanquidditch demos represent a fun, quick listen for wizard rock fans who don’t need layers of instruments and cracked versions of Auto Tune to feel like they’re listening to a “real” band. Listening to this EP definitely reminded me of hearing bands for the first time at a show in someone’s living room, and this reviewer thinks that a split EP between This Is My Nightmare and Hogwarts, A History would sound pretty freakin’ good.

If anything, the americanquidditch demos remind us that not all wizard rock needs to come from a “wizard rock” band. The love of Harry Potter, and the emotions it makes so many feel, come across in many different styles and types of fan-created music. Do yourself a favor and download (or purchase for just a few dollars if you wish) the americanquidditch demos EP and kick back for a few minutes of fun.

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From the Editors: Thank You!

Wed, Jan 3, 2018

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Hi, readers! This is just a short little update to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who donated to our GoFundMe campaign for hosting the ‘Pedia!

We raised our $125 goal in a little under 24 hours, and were able to move the site over to our new host over the next few days. The site has been up and running on the new server since yesterday.

We were absolutely floored by the quick and generous response. We not only raised enough money to host the site for the next three years (!!!) but the remainder of the money raised will be enough to continue to renew the domain name for even longer than that.

Thank you, once again, for showing that this community is important. We’re glad to be a part of your wizard rock experience.

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State of the Pedia Part II (in 3D) – Hosting the Pedia

Sat, Dec 23, 2017

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Back over the summer, our senior writer Laura shared a quick editorial on the state of the Wizrocklopedia, our history with the site, and what things looked like moving forward due to staffing levels and schedules.

Today we needed to come to you with another update on the Wizrocklopedia’s status, and we hope that you may have some input for us.

As you may know, since 2013 Richard Grooms (aka Undesireable #1, go download his wizard rap now if you don’t own it!) has very graciously hosted this site on his server completely free of charge. He stepped up huge for the site during a time when the ‘pedia was offline for a while due to a combination of technical and billing issues. For his efforts and generosity, we will always extend our sincere gratitude.

However, the time has come for Richard to shut down his server, which means the ‘pedia needs to find a new home. His server is set to go offline at the end of this month, which leaves us a very short window to decide what to do with the Wizrocklopedia, and make the moves we need to make.

After some conversation between the staff last night, here are the options we wanted to share with all of you, our readers new and old.

Move the site to a free webhosting platform

This option would ensure that billing issues didn’t impact the hosting of the ‘pedia, and it could still exist as a historical resource while being updated with info on new releases, shows, tours, etc. The downside to this option is that the sheer size of the ‘pedia may cause some of the older info to be lost, along with some of the custom features and designs built into the site. There are almost 200 pages not linked above that can be found on the site via searches, many of which detail the early days, shows, tours, and releases of wizard rock.

We can still post new articles on releases & bands, and of course our Twitter & Facebook feeds will remain intact if this is the route we need to take.

Move the site to another paid webhosting platform

This option would allow us to keep the ‘pedia completely intact, without losing any of the older pages, links, files, etc. We’d also be able to keep the appearance and features exactly the same as they exist today. The downside to this option is cost – we’d need to buy a package to host the site for 2-3 years which runs around $100-$120 or so based on the web host. This site has always been run by volunteers, which means we’d need to take up a collection, or set up a crowdsourced campaign to quickly raise the funds to keep the site afloat for a 3 year period. Then, once that period was up, we’d again need to figure out funding.

So where do things stand now?

After discussing the options last night, we’d like to see if our readers would be open to helping fund web hosting for the ‘pedia for the next 3 years or so. This would ensure that everything stays the same as far as content and site availability for everyone. We fully recognize and acknowledge that the site isn’t updated as much as it could (and should) be due to current staffing levels, however we feel very strongly that it should stay online thanks to how much info it holds for wizard rock fans both new and old, and we want it online to help promote current music as much as we can.

We hope to have some info for you shortly on fundraising, and in a worst case scenario, if we aren’t able to raise what we need, we can still move the site to a free hosting platform to keep it online for those who still visit and use our resources. We can’t guarantee how much of the site will remain online, but we will do our absolute best.

Thank you very much for reading, and if you have any thoughts, ideas, or comments, feel free to leave them below or hit us up on Twitter!

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Review: What Is Your Bag (to the tune of “Here Comes Your Man”)

Thu, Dec 21, 2017

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Ludo Bagman and the Trash released their first album this past July, under an inventive new genre: BAG ROCK. Don’t bag it till you try it, folks.

The album itself is a mixed bag of styles and instrumentations. It opens with “Song From Ludo’s Mom,” which is my tied-for-first-place favorite cover of a Katy Perry song (the other contender is Errandofmercy’s Dark Arts from the 2016 Wizard Rock Sampler). This song is backed by ukulele, and it emphasizes the individualities between all the different kinds of bags you can identify with, except plastic bags, because it’s actually not okay to feel like a plastic bag.

Next we go into “My Quidditch Days,” in which an acoustic guitar emerges from Ludo’s bag of tricks. In this song, Ludo unpacks the baggage of his infamous Quidditch injury that sent him into the Ministry.

“It’s All Fun and Games” is up next, which features a more rock-style electric guitar. Cat’s out of the bag, folks: it truly is all fun and games (in this case, the Triwizard Tournament) until someone dies.

“The Night They Burned It Down” takes a melancholy turn, where we see Ludo half in the bag and mourning the events at end of the Quidditch World Cup. What was once a way to relive his former glory, a lucrative gamble, a celebration, was turned into a nightmare when the Death Eaters attacked.

The album closes with “Bag PSA,” which is actually the first song that was released in April 2017 as sort of a teaser for the album. It also lives on Bandcamp as “The Bag Song” and brings us back home with the ukulele, but this time we’ve got some drums and a bass line. We’re at the bottom of the bag now, but Ludo reminds us that it’s okay to feel the need to cover our face or hide our emotions, that’s what bags are for! Just make sure it’s not plastic (‘cause you’ll probably die).

Also available from Ludo Bagman and the Trash:
Just Say No (October 2017) My favorite lyric? “You have just what it takes, to show them that they don’t make, the wizarding world great with their hate”.
A Very Merry Bagmas (December 2017; just released YESTERDAY!!!)

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