Sunday, 30 December 2018

Sounds of 2011: Nos. 52 to 49

Still the festive season it may be, but I'm back up and running here on Louder Yay. I mentioned last time round that this edition would feature one of my favourite ever fandom tracks. It still does, but there has been a small bump in the road, which I'll explain when I get to it. Also, Pony Music Library will return in the next week or so, assuming I actually remember for once! We move into the top half of the Everfree Radio 2011 chart during this post, so let's go.

From the artist now to be found under the name Mumble Etc. comes this catchily gets-under-your-skin piece of accessible electronica. It's inspired by the S2 episode "Secret of My Excess" and was originally written for ZIQ17. I have no idea where that name come from, but it was a music contest run by Toastbeard. There's a link to a 320k MP3 in the video description; the Bandcamp link doesn't seem to be useful for this particular song any more. I can't quite place the source of the "Spike!" voice sample – anyone?

No. 51 doesn't meet my inclusion criteria, so I'm skipping it.

This, right here, is the personal favourite I mentioned earlier. A song I heard very early on after joining the fandom and one I've never stopped loving. A truly gorgeous example of PPS's skill in chopping vocals, in this case from "So Many Wonders". The accompanying video is very basic by modern standards, but who cares? It's fabulous, and it's about Fluttershy too. Now... I was going to celebrate the fact that PPS had made his Pony songs public again earlier this year. However, just in the last few days it appears that he's had a change of heart, and "Flutterwonder" is now private once again.

I don't know his reasons of course, but it's still sad. I'm including this song nevertheless, partly because it meets Criterion 3 – it's still so famous that it really would be pointless omitting it. But as it happens, it also meets Criterion 1, as it is still officially available direct from the artist. Just not on YouTube – you have to go to PinkiePieSwear's Bandcamp and hand over a US dollar for HQ downloads. The song itself was released under a Creative Commons licence (by 3.0) in any case, so it surely won't disappear regardless of the state of PPS's YouTube originals. Deep Wide Bell Wonder indeed!

Oddly enough, this track has a similar status to "Flutterwonder", though at least MandoPony's YouTube account itself is still accessible. This song, however, has disappeared from his YT; I'm therefore embedding a PMV by LadyTamika499, who got permission from MandoPony to use the song (see video description). It's a fun, light-toned guitar'n'vocals piece from Spike's perspective, talking about how well he gets on with Twilight. (I can't be the only one who thought of The Descendant...) As with "Flutterwonder", this song is still available (in HQ, too) from the artist's Bandcamp – it costs just 50 cents.

Next time: the return of Eurobeat Brony, plus the original of a song I love in a newer incarnation.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Happy Hearth's Warming!

Merry Christmas from Rainbow Dash! And from me, of course.

See you in a couple of days! :)

Monday, 24 December 2018

Non-pony: Watership Down (BBC/Netflix)

Just before I shut up shop for a few days over Hearth's Warming, have one of my very occasional non-Pony posts. In this case, it's indirectly linked with MLP anyway, as joining the Watership Down fandom back around 2002 started the process that eventually led to my becoming a brony. So, past the cut you can have a brief, scattergun and very spoilery review of this adaptation of WD.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Sounds of 2011, nos. 56 to 53: Beyond Her Beautiful Winter

About time I got back to this! For music lovers, I hope to have another Pony Music Library induction before the end of the festive period, but don't hold your breath. For now, it's time to return to Everfree Radio's fan-voted chart of the best brony songs of 2011. I said last time there'd be two huge names – I was understating the case. There are three, plus another who used to be really big.

Here we have one of The Living Tombstone's early productions for the MLP fandom. Although it's not as polished as some of his later tracks, the essentials of his style are present and correct in this six-minute presentation. I'm not sure about the almost two minutes it takes before the drop hits, as this does seem to drag a little, but after that it's okay. Not especially thrilling, but okay. There's a Mediafire link in the video description, although the quality is just 165 kbps.

Yet another Chain Algorithm song now. He was clearly extremely popular back in 2011, though I suspect that many people who've joined the fandom in the last five years won't be familiar with him as he's released nothing Pony since 2012. This song is quite openly (see the video description) a ship between the artist's OC (well, he calls it a "ponytar") and Rainbow Dash. How you feel about that may affect whether you like the song, which majors on distorted lyrics and repetitive beats. Chain Algorithm's site no longer exists and this song isn't on his Bandcamp, sadly.

Here's the second huge name to appear in this edition, and as with the first it's with a remix of "Winter Wrap Up" (dated 2012 on YouTube but obviously not first released then!). I prefer this one by some margin. If you're even slightly familiar with Sim Gretina then it will be instantly recognisable as his work. A musician from Finland, Sim Gretina hasn't really been active in the Pony fandom for three years now, but the combination of infectious beats, carefully-judged vocal chopping and songs that don't overstay their welcome mean several remain classics to this day, if not quite this one. No HQ version that I could find.

Nostalgia time again for me, as this WoodenToaster (aka Glaze) song was one of the first brony tracks I ever heard. By the time I joined the fandom (April 2012) it was pretty well established and it's held up as a classic tune. I can't say I really know what it's about, and I'm not alone in that as the lyrics are pretty bizarre, but if you want a Carrot Top song then this is it. Perhaps a little beep-boopy for my personal taste these days, but still. There's a link in the video description to the song on various streaming services, but I can't find an HQ download to buy anywhere – though Bandcamp offers plenty of covers.

Next time: one of my all-time favourite fandom tracks will feature. Yay!

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 230: No Matter Where I Go, I'll Never Find a Better Prize

I think I may have found a new record-holder for the number of character tags on a single story. (There wasn't an upper limit in the old days.) That's The Corporate Watering Hole, an unfinished fic written by Rainbowflash way back in December 2011. This story has fifteen character tags. Since it's unfinished, it won't get reviewed here, which saves me the problem of trying to format its headers!

Read it Later story count: 292 (-3)

Another pathetic two-story week, but this time I actually have a proper excuse, which is that I've been preparing Christmas presents. Okay, that's not much of a proper excuse, but grasping at straws is pretty much my thing. Here's today's duo, both starring a certain pink Earth pony:

The Wait by xjuggernaughtx
Pinkie Pie's Incredible Interplanetary Super Prank by Cupcakes

★: 0 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0
Note: I use a skewed rating system. A fic I find average scores two stars.

Monday, 17 December 2018

What merchandise is left to offer?

Since I can't think of much else to post and don't want to have two "Sounds of 2011" posts in a row, I'll throw open the virtual floor. What Pony merchandise would be worthwhile Hasbro making/licensing as FiM nears the end of its road? I phrased that question quite carefully, as I'm not asking "What do you, personally, want?" Generally that ends up with people suggesting beautiful and expensive collectibles – and ones that often don't make it outside the US, which is no help here!

No, I'm talking about stuff that could be sold in toy shops and supermarkets for a few quid. Personally, I'd like to see some more stationery. The range is much better than it was a few years ago, but it's still lacking. For example, I don't think I've ever seen an MLP-branded calculator, which seems a little odd given how ubiquitous they are. Years ago, Savers sold ponified tissue boxes, but for some odd reason they've not reappeared. And surely a little range of USB sticks with Pony theming could work. (Edit: as pointed out in the comments, there was the Mimobot range. Long since discontinued, though, and never very cheap.)
So, any thoughts in this regard?

Friday, 14 December 2018

Sounds of 2011, nos. 60 to 57

It's about time I got back to this, otherwise I'm never going to finish it! (As I've said before, if I do something similar for 2012 and 2013, it'll probably be in a rather more concise format.) Anyway, here goes...

Yup, it's yet another bouncy remix by the guy now writing as Odyssey Eurobeat. Since the base tune for this song – Pinkie Pie's little ditty to Apple Bloom way back in "Call of the Cutie" – is so short, there's inevitably a lot of other stuff here, but it all fits together pretty nicely. Perhaps not hugely memorable, but it's solid enough background music. The HQ track is part of the Super Ponybeat Vol. 1 album, which you can get as a name-your-price download on the artist's Bandcamp.

No. 59 doesn't meet my criteria, so I'm skipping it.

There hasn't been an upload of any kind from daks since January 2016, but time was they were one of the more popular remixers in the fandom. The CMCs' song from "The Show Stoppers" lends itself to this treatment pretty well, and though this track is a little on the repetitive side that also gives it a beat that's both catchy and insistent. There's something of an 80s sound to it, fittingly enough given the source. You can pick up this song in HQ on daks' Bandcamp, and you can even name your price for the download.

Now here's a name that hasn't been involved in fandom music for a very long time. In fact, the most recent update on zahqo's YouTube account was back in autumn 2013. Haymaker is the singer, and his voice has that slightly gravelly texture that fits rather well with this story of the tension between Celestia and Luna all those years ago. Maybe a little too long, but you know what I am for complaining about that! There are several links to HQ downloads in the video description, but only the Mediafire one remains accessible.

Next time: the first sighting on this list of two very big names in fandom music back in the ago.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 229: There on the Stair, Right There

This may have happened quite a while ago, but I've only recently noticed: JohnPerry has disappeared from Fimfiction – account nuked, which means all his reviews have gone as well as his stories. I've featured a few of those fics on PR over the years, and I've read plenty of his own reviews, especially the "Suffers the Feature Box" series. None of my business why he chose to nuke of course, but I hope he's okay and I wish him well.

Read it Later story count: 295 (+4)

Anyway, I have no intention of doing the same, so it's time to get PR back on the road again. It's still in rather a rickety state, with one wheel buckled and some strange purple steam coming from the engine, but I'll blame that on Flim and Flam's garage. Not reading much does tend to allow my RiL list to bloat a little. Curses. Anyway, here is today's less than enormous review pile. Er, two fics, in fact:

More Than You Know by Obselescence
Flying Lessons by Ponyman

★: 0 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 0 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0
Note: I use a skewed rating system. A fic I find average scores two stars.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

The nearer future for Louder Yay

Last month, I wrote in these virtual pages about what I planned to do with this blog once Friendship is Magic had come to an end. I stand by what I said there, although I hear persistent rumours that Equestria Girls in some form may outlast FiM, in which case I'll cover that to at least some extent. What I didn't talk about, though, was what I planned to do here before the end of FiM came. So now seems like a good time.

I intend to cover the show itself in a very similar way to what I've been doing over the past few seasons. I'll write an extended review of each episode, and if international schedules allow I'll continue with Text Review Roundup as well. I'll also cover news relating to things like whenever Hasbro actually gets round to announcing that S9 is (or isn't!) the lot, though this isn't a breaking news site so expect occasional commentary more than frequent newsflashes.

As the end of the show approaches, I imagine there'll be growing anticipation about the finale, whether that's S9E26 or a one-off special afterwards. I'm not sure how I'll cover that fandom sentiment, or even if I will in any great depth. It's going to depend to at least some extent on how I'm feeling at the time. Once the synopsis for the finale is out, I probably will discuss it here, although I plan on putting my thoughts on that under a clearly marked cut.

There isn't a lot else to say, really. I'll cover S9 much as I've covered S8, as far as I can – but as the end gets closer, it may be more difficult for me to maintain my equanimity. This show has changed my life, and I don't care how silly it sounds for me to say that. And as such, it is going to feel strange once it hits me that there are only X episodes left before it's all over. Don't be surprised if I end up writing about that almost as much as the episodes themselves.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Signal boost: Matías Peñaloza

Those who follow me on Twitter (that's @louderyay for anyone interested) will probably already know that I'm a big fan of Matías Peñaloza's piano covers of MLP songs. He does plenty of other stuff too, but it's the Pony we're concerned with here. He has about 2.5k subscribers on YouTube, which is respectable but really a little down on where he maybe deserves to be, perhaps because he doesn't seem to do a great deal of self-promotion.

Here's his playlist of MLP covers, containing no fewer than 42 tracks at the time of writing. These aren't entirely the songs you might expect: "Winter Wrap Up" is not there, but there are a few lower-profile inclusions, the likes of "Out on My Own" and a four-handed "Blank Flanks Forever" for example. The great majority are official songs, but there's also a cover of "Anthropology". There's a little change in style between the oldest and newest covers, but they all sound good to me!

At least with the newer recordings, Matías Peñaloza is also kind enough to include links to sheet music and MIDI of his versions. He's still active, with "A Kirin Tale" being his most recent release. The song I've chosen to embed at the head of this post is "So Much More to Me", Fluttershy's song from the Equestria Girls short that came out earlier this year. Come on, this is me talking – what exactly did you expect? :D

Saturday, 8 December 2018

New FiM shorts?

Well, this is interesting indeed. As mentioned on Equestria Daily, three new shorts have popped up over in China. They're currently only available in Chinese, so I haven't seen anything of them beyond the screenshots on EqD, but I believe it's the first time we'll have had shorts that aren't Equestria Girls and feature ponies, ponies and more ponies.

Edit: actually not. As OilyValves points out in the comments, there were the Hot Minute shorts back in 2013. Published by Hot Topic rather than by Hasbro directly, but they count, I think.

I'm not going to spoil anything (not that I know much anyway!) but apparently these will be written by a mixture of newcomers and existing show writers. I shall wait and see with interest!

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Sounds of 2011, nos. 64 to 61

Off we go again. Three songs featured today, all by musicians whose names are still very well known in the fandom.

This is an interesting early (May 2011) effort by PinkiePieSwear (now called Matt R). It takes the show's first real blockbuster song and gives it a gentle opening that becomes a relaxing, dreamy remix. This is punctuated with sounds that could easily represent the drips of melting snow. The accompanying "video" is no more than a still image of the night sky, though that fits with the "late again" motif. Should you want HQ goodness, you can buy the track for $1 on PPS's Bandcamp.

No. 63 doesn't meet the criteria to be featured, so I'm skipping it. 

The most likely song you know by d.notive is "Vicious Lies", but that's not from 2012 so we'll say no more about it now! This track is considerably less well known, though it ended up on the same album (The Fantasy). It's a catchy bit of mildly distorted electronica, told from the point of view of Tank and relating to the events of "May the Best Pet Win!" in S2. Mildly silly lyrics, but never mind. You can get it in HQ on a name-your-price basis on d.notive's Bandcamp. As for the artist himself, it's several years since his last Pony upload, but he's uploaded plenty of other stuff to YT since then.

Now here's a real piece of fandom history: this is the very first brony song by BlackGryph0n, who is of course still around in the fandom, often duetting with Michelle Creber. "Take Me to Equestria!" isn't a bad debut at all, with a somewhat 1980s feel to it and some pleasant lyrics wrapped around with a magical repeating theme. The one I've embedded is the original 2011 release – there's a more polished 2012 remix. That's unlisted, but since BlackGryph0n himself links to it in this video description it's hardly a secret. Also in the description: a TinDeck download link. Now there's a blast from the past! Sadly with that gone, I can't find any HQ versions.

Next time: into the fifties, and all I can really say looking at the next post's tracks is "They're a real mixed bag!"

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Some new merch might be nice, toy shops...

I was at a local shopping centre with a friend the other day, and naturally we spent some time in The Entertainer toy shop looking at their My Little Pony section. This company is usually pretty good about stocking ponies, and so it was again – with some decent discounts on some of them, too. What was lacking was more than minimal new merch. It was the same stuff we've seen again and again, with Sunset's EqG sushi truck among the newer items available.

I think the Cutie Mark Crew was the last time we got a truly new toy line widely available over here. Nothing wrong with those, but it would be nice if The Entertainer et al would consider bringing in some of the newer stuff that we keep seeing on EqD. I'm not talking expensive fan-aimed figures of course, but even some different brushables would be nice. Right now, it's getting hard to see a reason for fans to buy much more Pony stuff in this country's toy shops.

Monday, 3 December 2018

No Ponyfic Roundup this week, I'm afraid

I'm severely under the weather right now with a truly horrible cough. It's not the cough I had a week or two ago, which was a standard winter one fairly easily controlled with mints and water. This one is one of the supercharged extended coughs I'm prone to occasionally. (Several visits to doctors over several years have failed to find a specific cause for these.) All I can really do is endure it until it goes away, and until that happens I'm not really up to concentrating on ponyfic.

I hope I'll be better next week and able to resume PR, though right now I can't give any promises. In the meantime, I'll continue with posts that don't require me to think so hard. There'll be more Sounds of 2011, and perhaps some more short waffly posts about this and that. I might get another silly merch review in as well. We'll see. Anyway, thank you in advance for bearing with me.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Sounds of 2011: The Return!

Because of the Pony Music Library post a few days ago, I didn't want to overdo the musical stuff, but I think it's time to get back into the groove with Sounds of 2011.

( Video not available – see below)

This song by MandoPony is a slightly awkward one to feature. As far as I can tell, "With a Sister" in its original form doesn't exist anywhere on YouTube. However, the song is still publicly available on MandoPony's Bandcamp (where you can buy it in HQ for 50 cents) and as such I'm perfectly comfortable with including it here. It's an uptempo country song clearly inspired by "Sisterhooves Social", and it features Applejack explaining to Rarity just why having a sister is so great. In 2013, the artist released this acoustic version ($1 on Bandcamp).

Another of the greats of the early fandom now. I'm not good at describing this type of track, but Archie's instrumental is clearly aimed at the club scene, like most of his other productions. Archie was one of the first brony musicians to cause a stir by deleting Pony tracks after going professional, but many are now available again. There's a vaguely Eastern sound to this, but otherwise it's not one that really sticks in my head. The version above doesn't seem to be available in HQ, but a longer Club Mix can be obtained on a name-your-price basis on Archie's Bandcamp.

Jeffthestrider wasn't a name I knew much about until recently, perhaps unsurprisingly given his last YouTube upload was in 2014, but in his day he was very popular – this track has over a million views. It's an unusual fusion of orchestral, electronic and percussion, and barring a few awkward moments I think it works pretty well. I could actually see Octavia duetting with Vinyl on this one – depending on how much fighting they had to do at the time! There's a Mediafire link for a 320k download in the video description.

Next time, we'll be bringing in another very famous name, though again it'll be someone who's no longer making Pony music.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

What do you want – and not want – to see in S9?

I know, I know, everyone and their dog has asked this question already. I've done it myself in other places. Still, I have a rotten cough right now and I'm not up to writing a proper blog post this time. So: what would you be happy to see in Season 9 of FiM? Let's assume for the sake of argument that it is the last season we'll ever get. I suppose I'd better give my own wishes too, so:

I would most like to see a Fluttershy/Rainbow map episode. It's been too long a wait, and it's not as if we get that many eps starring those two anyway. Their friendship is interesting as the longest-standing of any pair of the Mane Six, and I'd like to see how their dynamics are written now compared with how they were in the truly excellent – but S2 – "Hurricane Fluttershy".

I would least like to see romantic entanglement for any of the Mane Six, at least beyond comedic stuff like we saw with Trenderhoof in "Simple Ways". I think it's absolutely fundamental to FiM that friendship remains paramount. It would be disastrous to change things to give the impression that, actually, friendship is nice and all, but once you mature you'll "step up" to romance.

For the S9 finale? Well, whether that's S9E26 or whether we get another post-season special, I'd like something that gives me a similar feel to "Best Gift Ever". I don't see any point in a super-battle – "Twilight's Kingdom" did that – and I'd like it to be largely a reminder of what drew many of us to Equestria in the first place. Put the Mane Six, Spike and Starlight at its heart, and ideally give Celestia (especially) a proper role too.

What about you?