The Top 12 Wizard Rock EPs

[Thank you for visiting The Wrock Snob and reading this article! I’d love for you to jump right into the reviewy goodness, but first there is some unfortunate business to take care of. It is not in my nature to tell you specifically what or what not to buy and who to support – I tell you what I thought about an album, and if my tastes seem to align with yours, you might want to heed my suggestions. However, I must take this time to personally exhort that you do not monetarily support the bands The Remus Lupins or Ministry of Magic. The full reasons are unsettling and possibly triggering, so please proceed with caution, but if you want the full details click here. Simply put, it has been revealed that certain member/s of both bands did destructive, upsetting, and highly problematic things. While I can see the value of reviewing art no matter what the artist did on a grand society-level scale, I cannot morally allow myself to condone the financial support of these monsters, nonetheless exhorting people to do so. Now it is entirely possible this copypasta’d retroactive warning was placed on a negative review, making this sidebar somewhat moot, but I still feel it necessary to make these matters clear. Again, for full details and rumination click here, otherwise, please enjoy the article.]

Remember List Week?  And how failtacular it was?  Yeah, I’m bringing it back, but putting it on a MWF schedule, and then back to your regularly scheduled Wrock Snob next week.  [NOTE: The preceding sentence was written on Sunday, when I thought I would finish the article the same day.  We’re just gonna play this week by ear.  Will be at least three updates this week, but maybe more of a WFS thing.  We’ll see.]{NEW NOTE: Just think of this as a Friday-only update week, possibly something on the weekend, I promise, full deck next week.}  So, to kick things back into high gear, I am going to do a retrospective of one of the coolest things to ever come out of wrock, The Wizard Rock EP Of The Month Club.  Catchily-named, it was not, but it was positively dripping in awesome, and ran for three excellent years.  A total of 36 EPs (not counting special bonuses like the Mermaids Above Water EP) from various artists were distributed to hundreds of people around the world, gained exposure for many bands, and actually for a fair amount of bands acted as their first release, and in a handful of cases, only release.

So, to celebrate this great idea, I am going to compile a list of what the “perfect year” would be – think of it like fantasy football, but for music clubs.  And now, without further ado, the Top Twelve Wizard Rock EP of the Month EPs!

12. I Ate My Frog (Again)The Basilisk In Your Pasta

TBIYP came out of nowhere in the fall of 2007, scoring a hit in the wrock community with “Voldemort, Peace Off”, a song that combined able voices, humorous lyrics, and an overwhelming air of Frenchness.  The powers that be in the WREPOTMC (Paul and Whompy) wisely tapped them (no, not that way) for the club, and a few months later, we were treated to one of the most unique wizard rock albums ever produced.  To be frank, a lot of the uniqueness comes from the fact that the artists are not from America, Canada, or England, and thus bring a very different flavour to their music, from their no-holds-barred songwriting, laid-back instrumentation (with one big exception), and indifference to profanity.  Whompy once said that when he was writing his “Treestylin'” EP, he would send lyrics to Paul first to decide if they would be appropriate for the club’s subscriber base.  TBIYP most certainly did not go through this process as fucks are used without any hesitation, and with no real notice paid to them, much the same way they use the word communist.  I’m serious, “communist” shows up, like, twice on this album, which may not seem like much, but that’s two times more than pretty much every other wizard rock album.

The inclusion of the hit that made them famous is nice, and there are some new tunes in a slightly more adult version of that style that are fun, but the standout song on the album is “Bad Guy”, an electric-guitar infused ode to Snape in all his dirty, greasy glory.  It sounds vastly different from the rest of the album, and is so good that the listener can’t help but wish there were more songs like this, especially since it’s sandwiched between the weakest tracks on the EP, the adequate but bland “Potterwatch” and the boring “One Day At Hogsmeade”.  This song is the last song on the album, and I feel the album would have been stronger without it.  Now, it’s not a terrible song, but it’s such a step downward from the exuberant high of the previous song that it’s less of a step and more of a bone-shattering fall.  Still, like having sex with me, the ending may be disappointing, and it’s a bit on the short side, but it’s a hell of a fun ride while it lasts.

11. Hymns Of Truth And LightMary and the GrandPres

There was a lot of buzz from the big names in wizard rock surrounding this EP during the pre-release period, so I was naturally excited to hear it, but I’ve got to admit that I was disappointed upon my first listen.  I’m sure that part of that had to do with the fact that my first listen occurred while waiting in the hot sun for a bus that never showed up during my 33rd hour without sleep, and bright peppy ukulele music that switched gears on a dime and sometimes threw the gears out entirely did little more than annoy me.  Given repeated listening I definitely appreciate it a lot more, though I’m still not entirely sure how to categorize it.  I’ve decided that the best way to describe it is that if They Might Be Giants from 25 years ago and Fishboy from 7 years ago crash landed on a tropical island with only some recording equipment, a set of the Harry Potter books, and a female, the album they would produce would be very similar to this one.  The EP is even bookended by the (admittedly mellow) screams of the bands as they crash, and their last recording before they completely succumbed to insanity.

The songs are all short and fun, with the exception of “Oh Yo Sweet Dance Party”, which is of a moderate length and quite fun, especially when the drums kicks in.  The catchy highlights of the EP are the aforementioned song, “Hey Hey Hufflepuff”, and “Wizardland”, and the best lyrics are to be found in “Snape And Lily Pt 1” and “Dudley’s A Bro”.  While any of the songs just mentioned would make a great addition to any summertime playlist, it is sort of a problem when the best moment in the whole album is plagiarizing Oliver! Still, if I had to categorize this album in one word, it would be “fresh”, and possibly “lemon-scented”, though “weirdly-awesome-and-awesomely-weird” would work to.

10. FamilyDraco and the Malfoys

One of the great things about the WREPOTMC is that it was a forum for bands to try different things, to experiment a bit.  Sometimes it didn’t work, but sometimes it resulted in something like Family, a massively under-appreciated gem from one of the oldest wizard rock bands out there.  Brian and Bradley have written a lot of music about Draco, but never has it been as personal, and reliant on emotions and feelings and Hufflepuffy things like that.  It’s a necessary route to take when dealing with Draco’s seventh year, though they find ways to leaven it with some dark humour.  The album is set up like a book, with each track name being simply a roman numeral, which is something that I quite frankly can’t believe no one had done before, or has done since.  I mean, it just seems so obvious, given our fandom.

There’s something nice to be said about every track on this EP, from the vaguely Eastern-European feel of I., to the catchiness and great lines of IV. (“My boss is a jerk, and your boss is a jerk, and we hate going to work, but we got to, yeah we got to”), to VII., which is probably the only sentimental song ever written about Vincent Crabbe, to the metal sensibilities of “Epilogue”.  The feel of the whole album is definitely punk, though nowhere near as punk as Harry and the Potters’ (you know the drill) In The Cupboard.  There’s a nice range of styles represented over the course of the EP, but it never feels sporadic or choppy.  Lyrically, every major event involving Draco in DH is covered, with one big exception – when the trio was held in Malfoy Manor, and Harry and Draco were wrestling over the Elder Wand, effectively wrestling over the fate of the wizarding world.  Seems a bit odd to leave that one out, but if you’re trying to explore the side of Draco’s character that loves his family and hates anyone who harms it, even if that person if Voldemort, I can understand that it would be hard to smoothly weave in a song about wrestling his school rival.  Well, if you want to explore characters at that level of complexity, I guess that’s what fanfiction is for.  And canon too, I guess.

9. Wake Up HarryCatchlove

I was never a Catchlove fan (though there’s always been a soft spot in my heart for Talons and Tea Leaves), but this album turned me into one.  While lyrically speaking, there’s no new ground covered, Jace told stories we’d already heard before in song form in ways that hadn’t really been done before.  Sure, there are a bazillion songs about Harry and the Dursleys and becoming a magiciamatan, but the title track uses a different approach, by egging on Harry to get up and face the day, because finally, against all logic, this day will be different.  There isn’t a bad song on the EP, though “Dontcha Know” is a bit bland, and unlike the other songs, doesn’t really cover any new ground in the Ginny-Harry relationship.  “Legacy of the Fallen Wizard” is one of the best wizarding drinking songs out there (not that there are a lot of them), right up there with The Quaffle Kids‘ “The Common Welsh Green” (and I really can’t decide which is better), and there’s a nice callback to this song (or is it foreshadowing?) in the penultimate track, the great “Headed To Hogwarts”, one of the best songs out there about the Battle of Hogwarts.  However, the flatout best song on the album is the antepenultimate song (HAY GUYZ I NO BIG WORDZ), “If This Wand Could Talk”, a peppy, semi-acapella (HOW THE HELL DO YOU SPELL THAT WORD[S] ANYWAY?) song about one of the most depressing and destructive items in the entire series.  Oh, how I love cognitive dissonance.

8. The Enchanted Ceiling – Harry and the Potters

Did you ever wish that Harry and the Potters would lose their maturing song writing style (not that they’ve been writing a lot of songs recently), throw away all of that emotional complexity and songs that were more than just “Hey! Look at me!  I’m singing songs about Harry Potter!  Isn’t that CRAAAAAAaaaaaAAAAAAZY?” in favor of their original simplistic (if iconic) writing style, but the music wasn’t more mellow than the color yellow when high (seriously, HatP live >>>>>>>>>> HatP on album – though they’ve gotten better about that)?  Do you wish that sentence was less complicated?  Well then, too bad!  But if you managed to understand the first sentence, and would respond in the affirmative, then this is the EP for you. While I am disappointed that the lyrical highs experienced in The Power Of Love (“Song For The Death Eaters” is possibly my favorite song they’ve ever made – yes, above “Weapon”, “Ginny Weasley”, and “The Bus Don’t Go To Hogwarts [You Gots To Take The Train]”) are gone, and we’re now faced with some fairly simplistic plot and character rehashes (besides the surprisingly morose and touching “Everlasting Icicles”), this is some of the most fun music Paul and Joe have ever created.  “Ms. Norris” is the standout track on the album, with an old-school sense of rock and roll that just sounds delicious coming out of their mouths, “The Enchanted Ceiling” is a psychedelic exercise in weirdness, and “Never Going To The Bathroom Again” is a lyrical precursor to the following year’s EP, and is a great song in its own right.  Also, I feel like this album represents what an EP should be about – a sounding board for a decent amount of shorter songs, with a couple moderate-length songs thrown in.  In the end, while it lacks a lot of depth, that’s not always necessary, and this is some damn fun music.

7. Horcruxes And Hand Me DownsThe Remus Lupins

2007 was really one of the best years in wizard rock, in a lot of ways – a lot of my favorite albums were released this year, and a bunch of great “third-gen” or whatever bands started in the rush to create a wrock band after finishing Deathly Hallows.  Seriously, didn’t Zoë start Split Seven Ways like, three hours after finishing that book or something?  Though, on the other hand, wizard rock was still fairly limited, and the main genre was still various flavours of rock, and the bigger bands had yet to really start experimenting, and while I think some of those experiments were failures, they fact that these bands are willing to try and grow in new directions, and not just serve us the same thing over and over is highly commendable.

The Remus Lupins have definitely grown and – dare I say it?  I think I dare – evolved as band, but I’m not a big fan of this new direction (and yes, Alex, I will be discussing exactly why I feel this way… at some point), and every time I listen to Alex’s 2007-era stuff, I am struck by how damn good it is.  This EP is a really good example of Alex’s progression from Spells From A Broken Wand, an album that had some great ideas, but they were all concentrated into just a few songs, leaving a lot of filler lying around, to I Was A Teenage Werewolf, a close to perfect album that had a few terrible ideas, fortunately concentrated into just a couple songs, so they could be easily sequestered and ignored.  One sign of this progression is how the EP starts with another one of those pointless ethereal music tracks with random barely audible voices floating around there somewhere, a holdover from SFABW, where they were sprinkled liberally (i.e. more than once).  But besides that track and the equally disappointing opposite bookend, “Support The Order”, an utterly bland song, this EP is liquid awesomeness, except, y’know, without the liquid part.

“The Seventh Horcrux” is one of the few great songs in wrock that guessed at what would happen in canon, as well as being pretty ironic in retrospect, plus it’s very reminiscent of “Give Up The Ghost”, with its overall dark feel.  “Battle at the Ministry” is a more professional-sounding version of an older TRL song, and is still as catchy as over, though the cymbal is definitely overused.  “Origin” is the best song on the album, and Alex’s best song he’s ever written about Remus Lupin – miles better than the titular track of his following full-length album.  It’s quite possibly the waltziest (Look, ma, I invented a word!) song in wizard rock, and also has a bit of a Transylvanian vibe to it, perfectly fitting the subject matter.  “Fated” is a fun dance song with a nifty semi-sarcastic twist, poking some fun at the Harry Potter series’ overponderance on fate and more abstract “issues” like that.  “Slytherin Don’t Dance” shows Alex branching out musically, and is a bit of a spiritual presuccessor (seriously, I am making up words all over the place today) to the great “Rita Skeeter”.  It also has a brilliant coda, that I just can’t help but dance to, even after all these listens.  It’s a nice cap on a great album (because I’m just going to pretend those other songs didn’t exist).

6. Illegal Love PotionThe Parselmouths

The first time I ever heard the Parselmouths, I was not impressed.  A lot of this is because I was coming out of my sophomore year in high school, and I was at a live Parselmouths show, and I found their stage presence of annoying teenage girls – you know, the kind that plagued me during middle and high school – well, annoying, and it did get in the way of me enjoying their music.  And thus, I was very skeptical when I popped the dark green Illegal Love Potion CD into my computer, but I was very quickly blown away.  There is not a single bad track on this EP – an “EP” that happens to have twelve tracks of moderate length, so they win points for value right there.  In fact, there’s only one mediocre song on the album, “Love Song for Professor Lupin”, and possibly “Draco, Where Are You”, though the latter may just be due to the fact that I’d already heard the song more than a few times from listening to the first Wizards and Muggles comp.  To highlight every fun and clever thing in this album would take more time than the bloated clusterfuck that was an excuse for a review seen immediately above, so I’ll just say my favorite thing about this album – it has some of the wittiest, most clever wizard rock out there, with topics ranging from gender confusion to hot jocks to all manner of things Slytherin.  Brittany and Kristina also craft great (if identical – I think that was probably intentional) personalities, outlandish self parodies that are much more palatable in the form of peppy folk songs (they hadn’t dabbled with much electronica infusion yet), than in the form of in-your-face stage personalities.  There’s really not a single bad thing I can say about this album – the voicework is great, the instrumentation is above adequate, and the lyrics are delightfully spritely.

5. Tonks For The MemoriesTonks and the Aurors

Tonks For The Memories is without a doubt, the best album ever created that was named after an off-hand comment made by John Green (who is like Harry and the Potters, in which there is no need for me to link to him) on episode 1337 of Pottercast (same goes for them).  It’s also one of the best character-centric wizard rock albums out there, and a flat-out amazing album all-around.  It definitely falters at the end, but it starts off so well that you can easily coast on through the rather boring attempt at emotion (“1998 – Coming Home”), and the (albeit awesome) cover that badly disguises itself as a filk (“Remus Lupin”).  “1984 – Welcome” is just brimming with hope, enthusiasm, and vitality – in other words, it’s brimming with Tonks.  Many wizard rock bands out there have captured the spirit of their selected characters handily, but few, if any, have done it as well as Steph.  This isn’t music about Tonks, this is music by Tonks.  In fact, I hold up Steph as proof that the wizarding world does exist, and they’re subtly getting muggles ready for the repeal of The International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy through the means of wizard rock.  “1991 – Charlie Weasley” is possibly the best song on the album, sad and resigned, but not sorrowful or weepy, with a glimmer of hope, and hefty dose of rock and/or roll, with an incredibly fun and catchy chorus.  “1993 – Mad Eye Moody” has ten times the emotional resonance of the song set five years later, and is a great song about a touching mentor-student relationship that is not explored nearly enough, both in wizard rock and fanfic.  Well, except for those types of fanfic…  And “1995 – Lost” is up there with some of S7W’s work as one of the few songs in wizard rock that are able to never explicitly mention anything about Harry Potter or wizamaturs or whatever, and yet be undeniably a wizard rock song.  The next track, as I’ve already discussed, is pretty forgettable, and then as a brilliant send off, we are treated to something that has been a LONG time coming – a Tonks and the Aurors cover of a Bruce Springsteen song.  You knew it was going to happen eventually, and boy, was it worth it.

4. Born To HowlRemus and the Lupins

Born To Howl is unquestionably the greatest wizard rock album ever written about Remus Lupin.  You can debate which is a better band, RatL or TRL, but without a doubt, the better band about Remus Lupin is RatL.  This is for two reasons – one, Bradley (you know, the evil snakey one), is like Paul and Joe or Whompy or Steph or whatever in that all of his songs are in character, for a single character.  Now, I’m not saying that doing it differently is a bad thing, but RatL definitely are focused more squarely on Remus than TRL.  But secondly, and more importantly, in one fairly short album, Bradley has covered aspects of Remus’ character that Alex still has never covered (full disclosure, I haven’t listened to The Rest Is Silence yet).  Most importantly, the fact that REMUS IS A FUCKING TEACHER. I mean seriously – stuff about the Order and the Marauders (and the Marauders… and the Marauders…) and stuff is all fine and dandy, but I find it highly ironic that the events detailed in the book in which Remus gets the most screen time are barely covered by Alex – leaving out an important facet of Remus’ character.

But enough about interesting differences in interpreting and presenting a character, on to what makes this album so fucking awesome!  I mentioned in my review of JFF’s “And the Half-Blood Pizza” that I missed the colorful cast of characters that made up the Sugar Quills, and part of what I like about RatL is that it’s like a weird deformed cousin of the Sugar Quills – there are varying types of silly voices achieved through GarageBand instruments and Audacity filters, but they all are different voices from the same mouth – Remus Lupin’s.  When actually doing something with his life – i.e. teaching, or deciding to continue to struggle through life, and avenge his friends, Remus’ voice is pitched higher, when in the throes of despair, it’s pitched a tad deeper sometimes, and given some hella reverb, maybe passed through a guitar amp, and only when he’s with Tonks is his voice unfiltered.  There is only one bad song on this album, the unlistenable “I Eat Rats”, which is not only a trainwreck inside your ear canals, but it’s necessary listening to fully appreciate Remus’ revelation, determination, and acceptance in the amazing climax of the album, “To Sirius”, the best non-romantic song ever written about the Remus/Sirius relationship.  The standouts on this EP are… well, besides “I Eat Rats”, they’re pretty much all varying levels of amazing, but I do have to single out “The Metamorphosis”, which is possibly the most high-brow song in wizard rock, and is the greatest (and only) song I have ever heard about Kafka’s incredible masterpiece “The Metamorphosis” (seriously, if you’ve never read it, read it, like right now) – the fact that it’s a song about Kafka sung by Remus Freakin’ Lupin makes it all the more amazing.  I just wish that the distortion on the vocals didn’t make it so hard to make out the great lyrics.  If you are a fan of the character of Remus Lupin, then I can almost guarantee that you will like this album.  There is a surprising amount of depth and sophistication, given the gimmicky voices and sometimes silly instrumentals, but that just serves to illustrate the duality of Remus’ character all the better.

3. PenelopeThe Hermione-Crookshanks Experience

I’ve been a fan of HCE ever since I heard the excellent “Wizards of Egalitarianism” that contains the heady line “Egalitarianistic views, with, pluralistic tendencies”.  However, even though I was impressed by her contribution to the first Wizards and Muggles comp, I never really went and checked out more of her music.  A year later, however, my mailbox treated me to Penelope, an excellently crafted, moving album that is to Hermione’s character what Born To Howl was to Remus’ character, except even more so.  I mean, this EP on its own made me appreciate Hermione’s character even more, especially in light of Deathly Hallows.  I’ve always been more of a Luna gal myself, so while I appreciate Hermione as I character, I’ve always (if by “always” you mean “since OotP”) liked Luna better, and thought of Hermione as… well, not shallow, not underdeveloped, just… not as interesting.  But this album really made me appreciate Hermione, and gave her more emotional resonance to me.

This is demonstrated perfectly with the bookend songs, “So Long And Goodbye”, and the title track, which quite interestingly, are the first and last songs, respectively, and just by the titles, you’d expect the opposite, but it really does work in the context of the actual album, and not just a tracklist.  I don’t know if Kristine did this on purpose, but nonetheless, it’s pretty damn cool.  “So Long and Goodbye” really delves into the fact that Hermione, you know, ERASED HERSELF FROM HER PARENTS’ LIVES, and since Hermione really isn’t very genre savvy, she really could not know if this would be for just a year, or possibly five or ten.  And really, the chances that by the time Hermione goes to Australia to restore their memories, what are the chances that Ms. Granger is pregnant?  Pretty likely, I believe.  Anywho, this song does a great job of exploring a roiling sea of inner turmoil that was reduced in the canon to little more than a flippant remark.  I’ll get to “Penelope” later.

The weakest song on the album, which is still a pretty good song, is “Excuse Me”, a song about S.P.E.W. that’s a little out of place with all of these Deathly Hallows lyrics, but it also reminds me a bit of Penny’s Song from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (seriously, click that link, even if you think you know what you’ll get), and reminding me of Joss Whedon’s shit is always a good thing, because I’ll be damned if his shit isn’t tasty.  The best song on the album, and my favorite song released in all of 2008 is “On Thestral, We Ride”, a majestic, soaring masterpiece that truly captures the feeling of flying in musical form.  There are a few more DH-related songs, including a song about how no one ever listens to Hermione, and she’s always right, followed by the humorous coda, “In Which I Am Wrong”.  Two interesting additions to the album are the instrumental tracks “And Winter Never Ends” and “Magical Fall”, the latter of which is the closest we’ll probably ever get to wizarding chiptunes, and is also really reminiscent of the music in this flash game, incidentally.  As instrumental tracks go, they’re no Diagon Alley, but they’re also of a very different style, and are pretty nifty.

Lastly, “Penelope”, while not my favorite track on the album, is a song loaded with pathos and fear – not the sharp, shrill fear of horror movies, but the slow, suffocating fear that builds and builds and finally overwhelms you.  In two short minutes(and ten seconds), Kristine managed to turn something that I took as more a throwaway gag/reference to Harry posing as Neville on the Knight Bus into a word I will always associate with a young teenage girl pleading desperately, irrationally, for her very life.  Everytime I hear this song, or reread that section of DH, it chills me to my very bone.  This is top notch emotional songwriting, up there with the likes of Split Seven Ways, Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls, and a certain few Whomping Willows songs.  Overall, Penelope is a fantastic album, and one my few favorite wizard rock albums that features heavy amounts of acoustic guitar, up there with, well, the people I just mentioned in the previous sentence, as well as 2007 Remus Lupins.  If you have ever have a chance to get this album, then you should not pass up the opportunity.  This is one of those wizard rock albums that absolutely, unquestionably, deserves your money.

2. Alone In The DarkMC Kreacher

I had never heard of MC Kreacher before the 2009 Wizard Rock EP of the Month Club, and decided to continue my ignorance until his/her/their EP arrived in the mail, and when it did, I popped it into my computer, copied the tunes over to my iPod, and proceeded to check it out whilst washing the dishes.  And what I heard literally blew me away – we had to buy an entire new set of dishes, it took us months to clean away all the scorch marks, and it’s still oddly drafty in that room.  It’s a testament to how awesome this album is that not only did its awesomeness cause a non-fatal case of not-so-spontaneous combustion, it’s also so awesome that I didn’t care.  Thousands of dollars were needed in repair work, but I couldn’t care less, because I was grooving on the greatest wizard rap album ever made to date.

MC Kreacher and Alone In The Dark represent the pinnacle of wizard rap, which is both a good thing and a bad thing (also, note that I classify acts like MC Kreacher and Fawkes [check out “Broomsticks and Apparations” and “I Play With Spiders”] as “wizard rap”, while I classify acts like Swish and Flick as “wiz-hop”).  It’s a good thing because the pinnacle of wizard rap has now finally evolved above a joke, a funny side-project, just basically something where the focus was on making funny “raps”, not striving to make the best rap music (MOAR LIEK CRAP MUSIC AMIRITE?).  It’s a problem because this pinnacle was achieved a year ago, and there really haven’t been any new developments on that front.  Now, I’ve been informed that MC Kreacher is working on some new tunes, but that’s not quite my point.  My point is that there hasn’t been a lot of (or any) good new wizard rap (I refuse to call it “wrap”) from, really, anyone in the past year or so.  If you believe that I am wrong in this assertion, I would love for you to prove my ignorance in the comments.

Two full paragraphs in, and I’ve yet to actually discuss the album in any sort of detail, so let’s do things snappy-like!

LIST-WITHIN-A-LIST MODE… ENGAGED!

  • “Voices In My Head” – Interesting sample work to open the album, tight (as in well metered and managed, an also as in cool) flow, fun yet dark rhymes, real insight into Kreacher’s head, a place we will be residing in for the next twenty minutes, and a great “acoustic” section all combine to become a really memorable album opener.
  • “Don’t Touch That!” – The beat is hella annoying for the first thirty seconds, and the chorus is a tad repetitive, enough so to make me dislike this song at first, but the verses are absolutely top notch, especially the first one, which is just a thing of beauty.
  • “Black At Heart” – It’s a great contrast to the previous song, in that the previous song opened with Kreacher being all nice and then blowing it up in your face, while this song opens with “This is MC Kreacher (hello) / I’m not pleased to meetcha (hell no!)” and then has a change of heart, and explains how he’s really not a bad guy, but his HOUSE GOT INVADED BY TERRORISTS, so he’s understandably a bit high strung at the moment.  If you really want to get into this house elf’s head, then this is the song – Miles manages to milk an incredible amount of complexity from a fairly minor character.
  • “My Precious” – While I appreciate that the House Elves / Gollum comparison is kept fairly subtle, this is my least favorite song on the album – I’m really not a big fan of the hook, though there are a few really cool moments in the song, and the worst song on this album is like a lower-end Pixar film – it suffers in comparison to its brothers, but it’s still miles above what almost everybody else is doing.
  • “We Are Wizards” – The best song on the album, which is a bit ironic since the whole album is a great character study, and this song is OOC as well as a meta-wrock song (and a thumping good one at that).  But like in the movie this track is named after (Miles was an editor for the fantastic “We Are Wizards“), the really clever use of samples (or, stock footage) is what pushes the piece over the edge from really, really good to balls-to-the-wall amazing.  The beat is also fun as hell, and this song deserves a place in any “Let’s Get Pumped Up” playlist.
  • “House Elf 4 Life” – While it’s not as good as the previous song, so it’s a bit disappointing to go out on a lower note, it makes sense to bring it all home with a rap all about how awesome Kreacher is and how all those mudblood traitor/haters can go fuck ’emselves.  Also, “MC Kreacher is up in your speakers” is such a good line I’m impressed that Miles had the restraint to not use it over and over again, unlike the bizarre repeated appearance of that “Mudblood Brady Brunch” line – it wasn’t a great one to begin with, and repeating it didn’t make it any better.

Well, that wasn’t as snappy as I expected it to be, but whatever.  Alone In The Dark is an amazing album, the best EP released last year, and I will take as much time as I damn well please praising it, because this album, and MC Kreacher, definitely deserve it.

So, we’ve gone through eleven fantastic albums of various styles, from many (i.e. 11) different artists, and various (i.e. 3) years.  So what is number one, out of thirty six EPs released over the course of three years, from 34 different bands (31 if you don’t count side projects and alter-egos), what is the very best EP ever released over the course of the long, distinguished, varied, and awesome run of the Wizard Rock EP Of The Month Club?

It is none other than…

DRUM ROLL PLEASE…

1. Death To HumansThe Giant Squidstravaganza

For those of you who know me (all three of you), this is not a surprise.  But I have a feeling that many people will be caught off guard by this album being in the number one spot, or even being on this list at all.  To be honest, this isn’t an easy album to like.  The very first song is about urination.  The singer has a goofy voice.  The songs can often stray from having even the most flimsy of connections to the Harry Potter canon and become straight up squid-rock.

Waitasecond, these all reasons why this album is FUCKING AWESOME!  Other reasons include:

  • The song-songs (the tracks with actual singing and music and stuff) are actually quite decent – the Giant Squid is surprisingly adept at playing the guitar under water – of course, with ten tentacles, it’s prolly easier to strum.
  • Seriously, these are songs that WILL get stuck in your head, and they are about toast, pee, and heartbreak, for the most part.
  • If you are the sort of person who appreciates They Might Be Giants and Math The Band, you will love this album.
  • This is probably the only wizard rock album, and one of the few non-educational albums I have ever heard where I walked away much richer in knowledge (though admittedly, the knowledge is pretty narrow in scope).
  • This is the funniest album I have ever heard, in any genre inside or outside of wizard rock, EVER.  The Giant Squid has impeccable comic timing, and doesn’t ever rely on one “shtick”, and travels all the comedy flavours, from parodies of pop culture to dark humour to caricatures of the artist as bumbling and inept to caricatures of the artist as overblown and narcissistic to wry amusement at the album itself to a FREAKIN’ SATIRE OF ROMANCE NOVELS.  Seriously, this one covers all the bases.
  • The Giant Squid’s voice never wavers and is consistent throughout the entire album.
  • Speaking of which, this “EP” is A DOUBLE DISC SET THAT CONTAINS 59 SONGS TOTAL, FOR A RUNTIME OF OVER TWO AND A HALF HOURS.  All for five bucks (with a subscription, or ten bucks alone [25 cents extra for cinnamon on your toast]).  Now THAT is bang for your buck.
  • By the end of the album, the Giant Squid will have transformed before your eyes from an innocuous detail in the setting of Hogwarts that is only ever mentioned in crack pairings and theories, into a leaving, breathing (sorta) character, with surprising depth.
  • I have listened to this album, in its entirety, at least ten times, and many of the tracks many more times than that, and there are still lines that do not fail to crack me up, like “If at this point in your listening to this album, you are questioning why you are doing so, you are probably not alone.”
  • The final track in the album is one of the most satisfying conclusions I have ever experienced, for anything, of any type of media, ever (certainly more satisfying than the conclusion to [INSERT JOSS WHEDON CREATION HERE]).  It is absolutely epic in a meaning that predates when words like “epic” and “awesome” were reduced to meaning nothing more than “cool, I guess”.

I could go on for a whole ‘nother six thousand words about how awesome and amazing and incredible this album is, but I’ll spare you.  You can go buy it directly from the Giant Squid here, and I urge you to do so.  I can’t guarantee that you will like it, because some people are stupid, but if you thrive on humour, have a taste for the odd, and wouldn’t mind listening to two and a half hours of music and comedy tracks voiced by a muppet (though, fortunately, not Beaker) then you should really, really consider dropping ten bucks and a quarter (gotta spring for that cinnamon, yo) and getting the greatest album ever released via the Wizard Rock EP of the Month Club.

One last note – I would just like to thank every single band that produced music for this club, to Harry and the Potters and Whompy for organizing it, and definitely to the wonderful artists who made each year and intriguing collection to display, from the bright rainbow of 2007 to the slightly varied (in color) intricate woodcut style of 2008, to the ingenious idea of doing giant stamps for 2009.  Thanks so much to each and every person who helped to make this wonderful service (or is it technically a product?), and thanks to you all for a great three year run.  Wrock Snob out.

25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Whompy
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 06:51:59

    This is a fantastic list, in that I agree with about 2/3 of it. Very glad to see Mary and the GrandPres and MC Kreacher getting so much love.

    Reply

  2. Nate Beane
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 07:01:26

    Nice! I love Mary and the Grandpres, The Basilisk in Your Pasta and The Giant Squidstavaganza. Those are some of my favorite wrock albums for sure. Good list. I love lists…

    Reply

  3. Russ
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 07:24:24

    I don’t agree with probably 2/3 of the list (unlike Matt) and feel there are some EPs that definitely belong here over others, but when you boil it down it’s all really just personal opinion. Personal opinions and musical tastes aside, the writing in this article was worth the wait. Well laid out and written!

    Reply

  4. Sam Harris
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 07:31:06

    I agree with a lot of your list, however I think a few albums that should have been on there are: “A War Amidst Pop Songs” (the best wrock EP ever released, in my opinion), “Hufflepuffpizza” (though, only if this were a live version), and “What Witches Want”. I can not believe that you put The Giant Squidstravaganza on there. I will not listen to that entire album. It is just a little too weird for my taste. Other than that, I do agree with your list.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Jun 25, 2010 @ 18:14:47

      I really can understand why people don’t like GSS, and he’s definitely an acquired taste (but don’t eat the calamari!), but he happens to have exactly my sense of humour. Also, I wrote a ginormous email to Russ about why the Mudbloods weren’t on this list, but it boils down to 3 amazing songs in a very small inland sea of moderate, bad, or muggle songs does not a great EP make. But I can understand why people love the album, because of those great songs, and if some chaff were cut, it would easily be on the list, but for a song to be on the list, it had to have at the most two bad to average songs, and the rest would have to be really good to amazing and a half.

      Reply

      • Russ
        Jun 25, 2010 @ 20:06:19

        I highly disagree that any of the songs on AWAPS is BAD, and I think anyone reading this will challenge your assertion that they are.

        My simple rebuttal to that argument is that by being so narrow in your definition of genre, and forcing your ideas into a box, you’re denying the greatest wizard rock album of all time. Like I said above, personal opinion is personal opinion, but using this criteria of denying that a good song is a good song because it’s “muggle” is utter crap. I guess that means that truly amazing live sets by Whompy and DatM aren’t really amazing because they had muggle covers. They were just “ok” by your grading standards.

        I feel very strongly about this because wizard rock has always been so accepting of any genre and any style of music (evidenced by your inclusion of Mary and the GrandPres and Giant Squidtonydanza) yet here you are, denying that an album is great because of the fact that HOLY SHIT THERE’S A MUGGLE SONG OR TWO ON THERE!!!

        Reply

        • wrocksnob
          Jun 26, 2010 @ 01:03:17

          Um, hey, did you read that email I sent you? Like, the reply to your reply?

          Also, I thought the first song on the album was mediocre at best, and “Inferi Are Zombies” is funny, sort of, but not that catchy, pales in comparison to the other songs on the album, and just isn’t that engaging – the melody is fairly limited and monotone.

          So, see my thoughts on the muggle songs in AWAPS the email, and I have nothing against muggle covers in live sets – for example, I absolutely love my bootleg recording of Whompy performing “Something Vague” at the 2006 Yule Ball – but if he randomly dropped a cover of that song into, say, “Wizard Party Forever”, I would have some problems. But again, I’ve already explained things in my reply to your reply. And if anyone else wants in on this convo, I can for sure copypasta for you.

          Reply

          • Ruby
            Jun 26, 2010 @ 23:05:38

            I’d love to have an opportunity to actually understand your reasoning on this. Because yeah, it doesn’t make all that much sense from where I’m sitting.

            Reply

            • wrocksnob
              Jun 27, 2010 @ 00:33:32

              I will do a full on review of the album at some point to explain this, but basically, to get on the list, you had to have at most two tracks I didn’t like, and while I love the pants off three songs on the EP, and like one more, I really don’t like two songs, and find two more to range from barely adequate to dreadfully bland.

              Reply

  5. Zoë (Split Seven Ways etc)
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 07:35:11

    “Family” is possibly one of my favorite wizard rock anythings OF ALL TIME. I’ve never been in the club so I own depressingly few of the EPs and thus don’t know much about the quality of the others on this list, but I am sure they’re good 😛

    Reply

  6. Michelle
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 08:12:57

    Seriously. No Mudbloods. How is that even possible? Their EP is like…the greatest EP ever. EVER.

    That said, I would have put #3, 5, 7-10 on my own list. Probably wouldn’t have put them in the same order, but they would definitely be there. #12 would have probably made it, too.

    And Charlie Weasely is the best wizard rock song, ever. Just sayin’.

    Reply

  7. Abby
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 10:50:40

    I pretty much agree with what Russ said.

    Reply

  8. MaryBeth Schroeder
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 21:58:29

    I love MC Kreacher.

    the end.

    Reply

  9. wefancytheinternet
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 22:08:14

    I kept hoping the Giant Squidstravaganza would appear, and THERE IT IS! I haven’t heard a lot of these albums (I only have the 2008 CDs), but some comments:

    “Seriously, these are songs that WILL get stuck in your head”
    You have NO IDEA how often I get “Sound travels faster underwater/That means squid rock rocks you harder!” stuck in my head!

    I am so sad that I don’t have Horcruxes and Hand-Me-Downs! I have to agree that “Origin” is a FANTASTIC song, and I was overjoyed to see that there’s going to be a new version of it on his new album!

    I only know a few Remus and the Lupins songs, but they are fantastic and a ton of fun! Whenever I carpool with friends to a wrock concert, we inevitably end up singing “Expecto Patronum.”

    “Never Going to Bathroom Again” is another hilarious song, and if the rest of the songs on that EP are anything like it, I’m so jealous I don’t have a copy! I would gladly trade my copy of “In the Cupboard” from 2008, which nearly made my ears bleed.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Jun 26, 2010 @ 00:45:53

      I have a lot of love for “In The Cupboard”, but it’s not the most accessible album, since it is Harry and the Potters at their most punk. I absolutely adore “The Economics Of The Wizarding World Make No Sense”, and I loved how well they managed to poke fun at the canon from a completely in-character perspective. However, there are some songs that are really hard to love, and if you don’t really really like punk then you will probably not like the album.

      WAIT WHAT, NEW VERSION OF “ORIGIN”?!?! I AM SO DOWN.

      Reply

  10. Melissa Anelli
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 05:33:14

    ‘on episode 1337 of Pottercast’ <– made me giggle 🙂

    Reply

  11. Melissa Anelli
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 05:37:56

    and i also think it is already time to plan jingle spells 4. i mean, kill me. i’m curious: what’s your dream band lineup for that?

    ALSO LEAKYCON LIVE CDS ARE COMING SOON WOO HOOO

    Reply

  12. Jarrod
    Jun 28, 2010 @ 15:14:55

    I also agree with about 1/3 of this list, although I think I haven’t heard two of them (one of which is MC Kreacher and I bet it would be on my list too). I’m gonna go with Russ and say “Where the hell are The Mudbloods?!?”, but I understand your reasoning on that. Also “Hufflepizza”, “Dumbledore”, and “Bob Hope is a Vampire” are legend. (On a side note, where is TRAF? I sure miss those guys)

    You got it right with DatM’s “Family” and I also do love the Giant Squid. “Underwater” is a damn fine song. I also think “In the Cupboard” IS wizard rock at its most raw but again, I understand.

    LASTLY, I’LL MAIL SOME CD’S AND A T-SHIRT TO ANYONE WHO WILL SEND ME THE ENTIRE 2007 EP OF THE MONTH SET AND EXTRA POINTS FOR MC KREACHER & DANNY DEMENTORS 2009 EPs.

    Seriously.

    Reply

  13. Brian Malfoy
    Jun 29, 2010 @ 13:47:46

    So, by “one of the oldest wizard rock bands out there,” I’m sure you’re referring to the band’s longevity, and not the age of the members… 😉

    Reply

  14. Trackback: REVIEW: We Are Magic | The Wrock Snob

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Laugh At My Lack of Updates!

June 2010
M T W T F S S
« May   Jul »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

NUMBERS

  • 116,108 skulls fucked

Top Clicks

  • None
%d bloggers like this: