Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Sounds of 2011, no. 95: "Cerulean Blue"

No Ponyfic Roundup this week, thanks to UK PonyCon last weekend, and for the same reason my S8 finale review will be a few days yet – so have this instead.

Well, how about that? We've reached our first original song! I'm sure that the only reason this track by New Zealand musician Replacer charted so low in Everfree Radio's Top 100 for 2011 was that it wasn't released until early December of that year. It's certainly a song that's stood the test of time, being instantly recognisable from the pulsing piano chords that open the track. From there, we get a fast-paced celebration of early-series Rainbow Dash, but also a nagging worry that she's not quite fulfilling her potential.

For such an old song, the production values on "Cerulean Blue" are pretty high, perhaps one reason it's retained its popularity; the simple yet striking image on the video can't have hurt, either. A few of the drum sounds are a bit tinny, but Replacer's own vocals stand out quite well. There's also some nice variety, with a short guitar solo around halfway through and a great big Blur-style section nearer the end. "Rainbow Dash is best pony when the world seems Everfree" is a clever lyric – if not one this Fluttershy fan entirely agrees with!

Replacer – who styles himself replacer (all lower-case) – is a musician who remains active in the fandom to this day, having released a new post-apocalyptic surf-rock track (yes, really), "Still No Words", in September. If you're interested in getting hold of "Cerulean Blue" in better-than-YouTube quality, you'll need to look in the video description, where there are Mediafire links for both MP3 and WAV versions, plus instrumental, a capella and stem files. Although Replacer does have a Bandcamp, this track is not available there.

Next time on Sounds of 2011: another original song, and again one that's still quite well-known.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Back from British Personal Small Horse Convention

Yes, UK PonyCon is over for another year. It was a wonderful experience, full of... well, friendship and magic. I can't see the future, but if UKPC happens in 2019 and I can get to it again, I'm there.

There will be my trademark rambly posts about my UK PonyCon experience in the near future, but I'm much too tired for now; I haven't even fully unpacked the things I bought yet.

Suffice it to say that this was the happiest convention weekend I've ever had.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Sounds of 2011, no. 96: "For the New Lunar Republic (Thorinair Mix)"

I'm currently away at UK PonyCon, so this is a scheduled post.

Last time on Sounds of 2011 we had four remixes. This time? Just the one! "For the New Lunar Republic" is one of the more enduring of early-fandom tunes, and we'll be meeting the original by Not a Clever Pony down the line. What we have here is a version by Thorinair that turns the song into a swoopy, swishy trance track. (Yes, those are technical musical terms.) It perhaps feels a little too long at over seven and a half minutes, but otherwise it's great as background music.

It's been a long time since this homage to the Princess of the Night, but Croatian musician Thorinair is another still active in the fandom as of 2018: his Twilight-themed "From That Very First Day" was uploaded to YouTube this January, and you can hear him on the Glory of the Night show on Ponyville FM. Should you wish to get his "FtNLR" remix in higher quality than YouTube can offer, there are Mediafire links in the video description, or it can be purchased for $1 on Thorinair's Bandcamp.

Join me again next time, when Sounds of 2011 will be featuring... an original track! (Gasp! —Ed.) Yes, that's right: no. 95 in the chart is not a remix. You'll have to wait a little while longer to find out just what it is, though. Well, unless you know already. But don't spoil it for the others if you do, eh? Thanks. :)

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Sounds of 2011, nos. 100 to 97: four from Eurobeat Brony

I'm currently away at UK PonyCon, so this is a scheduled post.

Earlier this month, I mentioned here that I felt like doing a look at the songs that made the Everfree Radio Top 100 back in 2011. Although on many occasions I'll be sticking to just one song per post, I'm starting with a multipack. That's because entries 100 through 97 in the chart were all written by the same person. It's someone who remains well-known to this day and indeed performed at BronyCon 2018: Eurobeat Brony, aka Odyssey Eurobeat.

These are very early tracks, so there are a few rough edges that got smoothed off later on, as well as a slightly less impressive production quality overall. Nevertheless, the distinctive Eurobeat Brony sound is very much present and correct. Of the four, I think the "Winter Wrap Up" one may be my favourite, though it's impressive how a little ditty like "Evil Enchantress" can be remixed into a full song.

All four of these tracks can be found on the classic album Super Ponybeat Vol. 1, which was released on 26 March 2011 and remains available on a name-your-price basis on Odyssey's Bandcamp. (It's also cc-by 3.0 licensed, fact fans, so you can do pretty much what you like with it subject to appropriate attribution.) You will probably not be surprised to learn that we shall be encountering this musician again during the course of this countdown feature!

Not for a little while yet, though. Next time on Sounds of 2011, I'll be looking at... well, actually it's another remix. But it's by a different artist!

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Father Knows Beast"

This will be the final post made while I'm actually here, before I leave for UK PonyCon tomorrow morning. I've decided to fill the gap by beginning my "Sounds of 2011" series looking at the songs that made the Everfree Radio Top 100 that year. As such, there'll be a couple of scheduled posts while I'm away. I'm not sure when I'll be back to regular posting, but we'll see. Right now, though, it's time for TRR.

"Father Knows Beast" got a pretty positive reception from the text-based reviewers. It's hard to tell with JDPrime, who seems to have a games magazine approach to review scores, but with one exception the others were all at least broadly positive about the episode. The outlier was DrakeyC, who absolutely hated it.

Cuddlepug – mostly positive (graded B+; "we are left wondering who Spike's real parents are and why his egg was abandoned [but the ep is] a success on the whole [...] positive message this creates about the adaptable nature of family")

Derpy News – positive (graded A-; "a much better episode than “Dragon Quest” and one of the main reasons is Smolder")

The Dragon Warlock – generally positive (graded B; "a good premise [...] Sludge [...] is an enjoyable villain [but] I think we all deserve a proper explanation about why Spike ended up in Equestria")

DrakeyC – extremely negative ("THAT line left me fuming with rage [...] this is a shitty episode [...] a repeat of Dragon Quest where the villain is slimier, the heroes dumber, and the pathos recycled")

JDPrime22 – mixed (rated 8/10; " So much potential for this episode... and it was kind of wasted... but then again... not really.")

Lightening McQueen – very positive ("it may be kind of similar to Dragon Quest, but I still liked it [...] Smolder was also great in this episode")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (rated 3/5; "has Twilight really never thought to ask Celestia where [Spike's egg] came from? [Still,] Spike's interactions with Smolder were really good")

Mega Sean 45 – positive ("The episode I've been waiting for... or so I thought. [...] Smolder [...] was amazing [but] this episode just followed the same moral as Dragon Quest")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (rated 9/10; "the 'liar revealed' plotline [was] used again [but] there was so much new information about dragon culture and heart between the characters")

The Railfan Brony – broadly positive (rated Good; "a good, enjoyable episode in the end and the lesson Spike learned was a useful one for kids to learn [but] the series might be creatively stagnant")

ShutterflyEQD – positive ("It's safe to say that Sludge's moments were just more reasons to hate him. Even his song was not really anything too interesting. [However,] Smolder's pointers were perfect [and t]he Spike and Twilight moments were also very sweet and tender.")

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 222: The Hooded Fang

Read it Later story count: 298 (nc)

Thanks to one story I was going to review being deleted before I got here, together with me being pretty much out of commission for a couple of days with a horrible cold, I have only four fics on the reviewing table today rather than the five I was hoping for. Oh well, still better than some weeks of PR! Without further ado, here's today's quartet:

Chuckling Over my Cheery-O's by chrumsum
I Didn't Sign Up For This by Cillerenda
The Royal Proposal by Everyday
Dance by Martian

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Episode review: S8E24: "Father Knows Beast"

Happy Twilight with Spike and  unsure-looking Sludge in a castle room containing many books
"Books! The answer is always books! Spike's real dad? A book!"
I have a rather nasty cold at the moment, so this is going to be another of my rather short reviews. Oh well, better to have the cold now than during a convention weekend. Maybe it's a sort of pre-emptive con crud! Back on-topic, the last Josh Haber episode was the fantastically fun "On the Road to Friendship", so I was hoping for something of a similar standard from "Father Knows Beast". In the event...