Sunday, February 07, 2016

Reflecting on (the Album) Pokemon X

Back in 2006, Pokemon released an album to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the franchise. In our latest video, we look back at that album:

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

This Week in Pokemon Music-2/1/2016

Welcome to "This Week in Pokemon Music", a feature on the blog where we go over some of the Pokemon music that's been released recently.

Our first featured track comes from a first-time video uploader:

Artist: PortmanTone
Title: Bicycle - Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum [Cover Arrange]

The artist admits to having a few production issues (both in performing and editing), but for a first video, this is quite impressive, and I hope to see much more in the future.

Our second featured track is another remix of the Zinnia battle theme from ORAS:

Artist: ArtLex
Title: Pokemon Omega RubyAlpha Sapphire Battle! Zinnia Music

This track is proving to be extremely popular, and I expect we'll hear more renditions as time goes on.

Also, as a side note, although it doesn't talk too much about music, the Pokemon YouTube channel did put up a video with Junichi Masuda:

Here's this week's playlist:

Happy Listening!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

This Week in Pokemon Music: 1/25/2016

Welcome to "This Week in Pokemon Music", a feature on the blog where we go over some of the Pokemon music that's been released recently.

Our featured track this week is a remix of the Zinnia Battle theme from ORAS:

Artist: ElectricMudkip
Title: Pokémon OR/AS - Decisive Battle! Vs. Lorekeeper Zinnia - Remix


What's interesting to me about this mix is that it manages to incorporate both modern and retro-sounding elements, which I suppose is appropriate for a song from a remake.

Here's this week's playlist:


Happy Listening!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Unboxing Japanese Pokemon Music-Jan. 2016

What goodies lay inside the recently released "Pokemon XY&Z  Character Song Project" CD?


Transcript:

Alright. Hi folks, Steven here. We’re going to be doing an unboxing video. This should be the latest Pokémon CD from Japan in here. And you know, I ordered this before I knew what was happening with the station. I think I’m going to keep doing these even though I don’t technically need them, because I don’t really have a true station anymore. But, we’re just going to keep doing these unboxings.

So, first of all, you notice it came in relatively a small box. That means there’s probably not a poster, or at least not a rolled up one in there. So, this should be a little bit less complicated to unbox.
Alright. Now that we’ve got that little edge there cut out, we can do these two and then this should open. By the way, speaking of the station, what do you folks think of the new approach? It’s really the best I can do right now. But, I am kind of curious to get your feelings on it. In any case, let’s continue opening this.

Alright. So, you can see, usual tissue paper. Let’s see what we’ve got.

Bubble wrap.

Alright. Pocket Monsters XY & Z. Now, of course, a week or so ago, they announced that the XY & Z is coming to America. I figured the TV show would, but they are calling it XY & Z, despite no official confirmation of a third game. And it looks like we have another one of these Tretta chips in the middle there.

I believe this is, yeah, this is a CD and DVD bundle. The way these come out in Japan, there’s usually, for the major ones at least, there’s a CD bundle, and then a CD and DVD bundle that has, usually, some sort of video content, obviously, on the DVD.

So, let’s get this shrink wrap off and see what we can do.

Boy, this is stubborn. We’ve got, it looks like Ash-Greninja on there.

I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed that the 20th anniversary thing that Pokémon announced a couple of weeks ago didn’t include any music things. But hopefully that’s in the works and they just don’t have anything to announce just yet. But in any case, let’s open this up, slide this out.
And let’s start with the Tretta chip.

If you remember, Tretta is sort of the successor of Battrio, which is this arcade unit. You can sort of see it down there. And this is a special chip that you can use in there. I don’t really know how the game’s played or what the mechanics are like. But, seeing as there are no arcades here, you just be glad we’re getting Pokken Tournament.

But in any case, this is, I guess, the Ash-Greninja Tretta chip. And if you look on the back, there’s some stats: HP— Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about the game to really say too much else. Water Shuriken, I think is how that’s pronounced. Interesting that that’s in English. But yeah, that’s a little bonus you get at least for this edition of it. I don’t know if it comes with the regular edition as well, but there you go. Obviously, some more information here on the back about Tretta. It does have a website, which interestingly is .com, not .jp. But this is probably the closest I’ll ever get to it. I didn’t really see anything while I was in Japan a couple of years ago.

In any case, let’s take a look at the actual discs that are in there.

Okay. Comes with this little leaflet. But, let’s take a look at the discs here quick. They have this little line art. I’m not sure how well that’s going to show up there. But, there’s line art. Here’s the compact disc and then here’s the DVD.

Like I said, this is the new, I believe, opening theme, if memory serves me. XY & Z. I’m very tempted to try and combine that somehow with ABC, the Jackson 5 song, but oh well.

In any case, let’s see what’s underneath this. Some more art, of course. Zygarde in its 1% Forme, or something like that, obviously not its Perfect Forme. Over here, Ash and Greninja. I wonder why they chose—I guess the color schemes kind of match, if you take a look there. I guess that must be the main reason why they have this similarity there of Greninja and Ash. Wouldn’t have worked as well. That was the starter he picked up- maybe it just happened to work out, or maybe they decided to do that. In any case, track listings over here. We have the usual versions, some B-sides, and then off-vocal or karaoke version. And we have the intros on the DVD.

In any case, it comes with this little leaflet as well. Take a quick look at that.

Here, obviously, are lyrics. Of course, they’re in Japanese.

I like that shot right there of them standing side by side. That’s a nice combination there.

I’m guessing this is about—I believe in the Japanese, she’s called Eureka. But we know her as Bonnie. There we go. Took me a second to remember the English name, for some reason. We’ve got Dedenne and again Zygarde. So, we’ve got some Team Rocket stuff. I remember seeing a thread or something about Team Rocket stuff. I don’t know if that’s what this song is about or what. I’ll have to take a listen to the CD. And on the back, we have the track listing.

So, that’s all there is in that one. And it’s not a bad package. I think I will keep buying these and bringing them in, even though I don’t have a proper station that they can go on.

Alright folks, that pretty much does it for this video. I’d like to, as I said earlier, get an impression of what you think of the new “station” format, where I put a blog article out each week with a playlist. How’s that working for you? I have my own thoughts, but I’d like to hear yours. So, give us a comment or drop me an email. Alright, folks. Thanks.

Transcript by GetTranscribed.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

This Week in Pokemon Music: 1/18/2016

Welcome to "This Week in Pokemon Music", a feature on the blog where we go over some of the Pokemon music that's been recently released.

This week's featured track is an orchestral arrangement of the gym battle theme from Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow:

Artist: YoshiDude12
Title: Pokemon Red / Blue / Yellow - Vs. Gym Leader (Orchestrated)

This is an excellent arrangement, featuring some well-done synth work.

The slew of Pokemon movies (twelve or thirteen, depending how you count) added to digital stores today didn't come with any additional music from those films (though I didn't really expect any since none was promised). Still, be sure to enjoy them, as well as this week's playlist:


Happy Listening!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

This Week in Pokemon Music: 1/11/2016

Welcome to "This Week in Pokemon Music", a feature on the blog where we go over some of the Pokemon music that's been recently released.

The first track we have this week is a remix of Route 113 from Ruby and Sapphire:

Artist: AlmightyArceus
Song: Route 113 Remix - "Red Flute" - Pokémon OR/AS/RSE (1000 Subscriber Special!)

Also, its worth noting that insaneintherainmusic has been remastering some of his old work, which includes a "Pokemon League" cover. The album is available on iTunes and Amazon MP3.

Sadly, today's "Pokemon 20" announcement did not include any new or rereleased music products, though I do hope we see some this year. In the meantime, here's the playlist for this week:


Happy Listening!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

This Week in Pokemon Music: 1/4/2016

Welcome to "This Week in Pokemon Music", a new feature on the blog where we go over some of the Pokemon music that's been recently released. We'll cover a variety of sources, ranging from digital services to fan creations.

We just passed the holidays, so this week there's a lot of focus on winter-themed tracks. We start off with a cover of the Snowpoint City theme from Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum:

Artist: xclassicalcatx 
Song: Pokémon DPPT: Snowpoint City [ ❄ viola cover ❄ ]

What I really like about this one is the way it combines the synthetic sounds with the strings, something that can be very difficult to accomplish.

Speaking of the fourth generation, Sinnoh's Route 216 is a popular subject (similar to Lavender Town at Halloween). Here's an excellent jazz rendition:

Artist: insaneintherainmusic
Song: Route 216 - Pokémon Diamond / Pearl / Platinum | Jazz Cover

If you're looking for something a bit warmer, perhaps this arrangement of Lance's theme will work:

Artist: Marc v/d Meulen
Song: Pokémon Lance Battle Theme (Symphonic/Cinematic Remix) With Viola & Guitar!

Those are the featured tracks for this week-you can check out these and more in this week's playlist:
Happy Listening!

Friday, January 01, 2016

Pokemon TCG City Championships 2015-2016: Loves Park, IL

The following is an interview with Nick Foltz, who won the 2015 Pokémon TCG City Championship in Loves Park, IL (Standard format) with an Entei deck:

Where are you from, and how did you get into playing the Pokémon TCG?
I am from Rockford, IL and spent my formative years living in Loves Park (a neighboring city). It was very exciting to bring home the gold in my hometown. I'm an old man in Poke-years (28) so I actually played (non-competitively) during the Base Set days. I took about a 15-year hiatus before regaining an interest in the game thanks to the children in the after-school program I run. What started as a joke amongst me and a few friends has become a fun way to spend time together and travel around in hopes of earning an invite to the 2016 World Championships.

What made you choose to use this deck for this tournament?
It was sort of a last minute call-I had some success the prior weekend with an original deck of mine, Toad/Zoroark, netting me a second place finish in Tecumseh, MI, so that seemed like the safe play, but as I walked through the play area I noticed a lot of Night March being written out on deck lists, and Entei pretty well crushes Night March thanks to Assault Vest, so I figured I'd give it a go.

What's the basic idea of the Entei deck?
The goal is to quickly draw through your deck with item draw and Scorched Earth, discarding Fire energy along the way to fuel Blacksmith. By attaching a DCE, using Blacksmith, and attaching two Muscle Bands (thanks to Entei's Theta Double Ancient Trait) you're able to use Heat Tackle for 170 damage on the first turn more often than not. Conversely, if the matchup calls for a more conservative, defensive style, you can opt to attach Assault Vest and use Entei's Flame Screen attack, which reduces your opponent's attack by 30, plus another 40-80 from the Assault Vest cards if they have a Special Energy Card attached.

What were some of the other Pokémon in your deck, and what were they used for?
Besides the four Entei, the deck only plays a single copy of Charizard EX (FFI 12) and three Shaymin EX. As mentioned before, the deck relies on drawing as many cards as possible in order to maintain a steady stream of Blacksmith throughout the game, and no card does that better than Shaymin EX. The Charizard EX is more or less a “last resort” card when setup doesn’t go as planned, and functions as a less versatile version of Entei. It's able to do 170 damage like Entei, but only requires one Muscle Band. Unfortunately, Charizard EX’s Combustion Blast can't be used the following turn, plus it gives two prizes when KO'ed because it's an EX.

In the Top 8 match, you ended up having to play a sudden death match to resolve game one. What led to that, and how did you approach the single-prize game?
The Head Judge, Chris Dreksler, always “accuses” me of keeping his tournaments interesting, and once again I did not disappoint. I was facing a straight Mega Manectric EX deck, which, in my opinion, is not a great matchup for me-Rough Seas messes with my math as I'm not able to efficiently slow down their attacks with Heat Tackle/Assault Vest, and I'm not able get OHKOs because of its massive 210 HP. He had one remaining prize on the board, compared to me with two. My last Entei had incurred 120 damage but was fortunately fully powered up to do 170 damage with its two Muscle Bands. I played Lysandre to bring up his Hoopa EX, used Heat Tackle for 170, effectively KO'ing it and earning my final two prizes. Unfortunately, when Heat Tackle is used you must flip a coin: If tails you do 30 damage to yourself. Naturally, I flipped tails, causing a double KO. This sent us into a one-prize sudden death, with the winner of that match being declared the winner of game one.

In the actual Sudden Death, there wasn't really any way for me to strategize for the match as I started lone Shaymin EX while he had a Manectric EX. He attached twice while I essentially drew-passed, and thanks to Shaymin's Lightning Weakness, I was quickly taken out and put in a 0-1 hole. Fortunately, I was able to win the two other games and advance.

What worked well for the deck in the tournament overall?
Just about everything worked well during the tournament. I was able to effectively manipulate the two very powerful tools in the deck to optimize each specific matchup. I faced a lot of non-EX decks that rely on DCE to attack (three Night March and a Raichu/Crobat), so Assault Vest does an incredible job of forcing those decks to two-hit KO while only receiving one prize.

Are there any changes you might make to improve it?
I think I made a fairly optimal version of the deck for the given meta. Should Seismitoad EX become more popular (as I already witnessed the following day), there are a couple items I may cut in order to maximize the cards I can effectively use under item lock, such as a fourth Scorched Earth and a fourth Blacksmith. I've also heard of players using a Parallel City to minimize Seismitoad's damage output (which seems pretty clever to me) as well. It all comes down to reading your meta properly.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Changes to the station effective 1/1/2016

Note: At the time this article was originally written, Live365 had not put out an official statement regarding the changes, thus some details are based on limited information. The article will be updated as final details become available.

Updated 12/30/2015 4:30 PM CST: Added details from the Live365 release regarding the matter. As before, I am planning on continuing the station in an alternative form-see below the embedded video.

Every four-to-five years, a board of judges at the federal level sets the US base rate of performance royalties for internet radio (1). The most recent rates came out on December 16th, and as a result of the changes, Live365 (the hosting provider for the station since its inception in August 2000) is discontinuing its personal broadcasting packages when the rates go into effect on January 1st (2), and at that time, the PIRN stream on the service will cease broadcasting. Live365 itself may only continue providing streaming audio at all through the end of January 2016.

At one point (before all plans were removed from the Live365 website), I had the option of switching to one of their comparable professional plans, which would have cost approximately $40 a month more than what I'm currently paying (for reference, I've been paying just under $70 a month to broadcast). While I could have afforded the difference (the changes I'm making are more about what audience I can reach than personal cost), it became difficult to justify given the typical amount of listening the station got per month. Historically, listenership peaked in the summer of 2005, and despite attempts to advertise the station, I've never been able to surpass that mark. Also, while there are a few other services that allow individuals to run their own internet radio station, I doubt that I could get significantly more listening time by being on them (also, I'd want to have things in the industry settle before moving to another streaming provider).

Why is it so difficult to court listeners? Well, the truth is that the station's target audience is generally under 30, and thus gets its music not from a more traditional radio paradigm, but on demand, and mainly through YouTube (which, you may notice, launched in 2005). About a week ago, I attempted to take an hour or so of a playlist and see how much I could find on there, and this was the result:


Given the circumstances, I've decided it's a better use of my time and resources to curate video playlists on a daily basis and link to them from here. This should serve a wider audience, and give me more time to focus on original content. In this new format, I'll attempt to adhere to the following principles:

Maintain a structured playlist: Like with the current station, my goal is to balance music between generations, styles, and origin countries using musical categories and a clock wheel system (3) . I feel this keeps the playlists more interesting and less repetitive.

Use official/officially monetized videos when feasible: One of my goals is to support the industry where possible, so I will try to find official videos or ones that have been claimed and monetized by the song owner.

This will be an evolving process, so keep an eye on this blog for updates.

1. This rate covers non-interactive broadcasts where music is streamed continuously in a manner similar to a terrestrial radio station, not services that provide specific songs from a library on demand to a user like on Spotify or Apple Music. 
2. The specific reason for the removal of the personal plans appears to be the discontinuation provisions aimed at reducing costs for smaller stations. More information about the overall situation can be found in this article.
3. See the video for how the station is programmed for more information about how clock wheels are used in radio.