New Track Up on YouTube! (Banjo-Kazooie)

January 22nd, 2011

Yes – that’s right – we’ve uploaded a new track. We actually got together and fully recorded a song. It’s been a long time, and we’ve all been very busy with various things on a personal and professional level – but we’ve finally found the time to get back together and we’ll be finding much more time to do so going forward.

Over a full year on. Yeah. We know. What happened? Well, life happened. I’m very busy with my work – I’m a freelancer who writes about games – so is Lloyd, and Sam is studying for a degree in music technology (something you’ll see reflected, I think, in the quality of our work going forward) and we’re both also super busy with our lives in general. That said, we’re finding a little more time now. We’re doing more. We’ve got several exciting mixes lined up that we’ve all been toiling away on arranging during our hiatus. I hope you look forward to them.

As for the rest… We’re still planning to get a limited run of CDs printed, and we’ll still be releasing downloads of all tracks free via this site. A download of this is coming after I do a final, final mix of it. In the meantime, enjoy the YouTube version. Leave us a comment with your thoughts! We’re recording again next Friday…excitement! Be sure to subscribe on YouTube, as sometimes we put stuff up there a little earlier.

We’ve also now got a Twitter Account. Please drop us a follow – this is one way we’ll be able to chat to you guys and give you more regular updates!

 

We’re not Dead!

January 5th, 2010

We’re really not. I know it’s been six months since an update but I just wanted to reassure you all that we’re still alive and kicking and planning some cool new tracks.The last six months have been crazy for all of us, but our lives are finally starting to level out again now, so we’ll have time to record some stuff once again.

Here’s some updates of what we’re actually doing:

First CD:

We’re working on finalizing an 18 track CD which we’ll be releasing as a free download via this site. It’ll include many of the pieces already on here as well as some new ones, and we’ll be putting up official artwork that you can download so you can put together a physical CD if you want. We’ll also be doing a limited run of high quality, professionally printed CDs to sell for anyone who wants them – but our music will still be free for anyone who wants to just download and listen.

Second CD:

As well as working on a first CD, we’re going to be recording more tracks and releasing them as usual. These’ll be going towards a second CD, but as always we’ll release them as we finish them. You can look forward to tracks from games like Banjo Kazooie, Final Fantasy IX, The Zelda Series and F-Zero as part of our second CD.

FAQs:

  • Yes, we do take requests but we can’t promise we’ll do them. Suggestions are always Welcome!
  • No, we don’t have tabs for the stuff we do apart from some very rough paper tabs that wouldn’t be much use to anyone. We’re working on something so you guys can play along, though.
  • We’ll be setting up an equipment page so you can see what we use to record sometime in the near future.

Thank you to everyone for all your kind comments over the last few years, and we’re here to stay, we promise. I hope all you TRW listeners had a great Christmas and New Year – here’s to plenty of Videogame Music in 2010! Please leave any song requests and stuff in the comments!

 

Ahead on Our Way (Final Fantasy VII)

July 6th, 2009

Final Fantasy VII again. There’s something about this game – while I prefer FF9′s soundtrack, FF7 has some truly phoenomenal pieces of music that give me shivers. This is one such tune. Ahead on Our Way is one of the stand-out tracks from FF7 that isn’t a pumping battle theme like Aerith’s Theme.

As with most of the Final Fantasy tracks we cover, this one is by the amazing Nobuo Uematsu. He really captures the feel of that segment of the game where the party is getting a rest from the fast-paced events of the game for the first time in the appropriately named town of Kalm. Here we’ve got some synthesised strings via keyboard throughout the track as well as some piano later on.

The bulk of the track is carried by soothing guitar, with ‘backing’ guitar picked and strummed and lead guitar punching through with a bit of reverb just to make it sound right with the feel of the track. We did try to turn this one into a bit of a power ballad after experimenting with different styles, so the track ‘builds up’ into a big climax with everything getting bigger until it all quiets down for an understated finish.

Remember to check out Our MySpace and YouTube Channel. If you want to stay up to date with new tracks, sign up for our RSS Feed! We’ll gladly accept requests and suggestions from people who add us there, or via the contact page here on our website!

Did You Know?
Ahead on Our Way is the first proper ‘town’ music in Final Fantasy VII, despite appearing around halfway through the first disc. With the party trapped inside Midgar for the early part of the game, it’s a while before the party enters FF7′s first traditional FF town – Kalm – which is where Cloud tells his story of what happened On that Day, Five Years Ago…

 

Lava Reef Zone (Sonic & Knuckles)

May 19th, 2009

Sonic 3 & Knuckles is one of my favorite games of all time. In the top three. I’m sure it rates pretty high for the other guys, too. When joined together, that is honest-to-god the best 2D platform game of all time. It also has some god damn amazing music by Jun Senoue, Howard Drossin and Tomonori Sawada.

I don’t know what one of them is responsible for the fantastic music to Lava Reef Zone, so we’ll give all three of them the credit on our cover – they all deserve it anyway. This point in the game is right when the plot is starting to hot up, and the game does a great job of drawing you in without any text or voice acting – just 2D graphics to explain what’s going on.

While a cover of Lava Reef, this track also touches on the Hidden Palace Zone music, which also features a little in Lava Reef. There’s a fair bit of synth here and we took a very different approach to recording the rhythm guitar as we arranged it to be such high notes. Overall we’re very pleased, and we’re definitely gonna revisit Sonic more.

Remember to check out Our MySpace! We’ll gladly accept requests and suggestions from people who add us there, or via the contact page here on our website!

Did You Know?
Lava Reef is actually the longest level in any of the Mega Drive/Genesis Sonic games. In terms of raw size and number of different paths characters can take the level is larger than any other, and really stretches the Mega Drive’s RAM to its limit.

 

Staff Roll (Super Mario 64)

May 19th, 2009

This is an old track. Well over a year old. So yes, we know that the recording quality isn’t anywhere near as good as our latest stuff and the same can be said of the piece in general… but we still love this song. When most people think Mario Music, they think of the iconic NES tunes, including most of TRW. Not me, though.

As I grew up as a Sega Kid, I was more accustomed with Sonic, and while I knew Mario and had of course played his games, I didn’t actually own one until I got an N64 with Super Mario 64. That game blew my mind, and the music was a big part of it. To this day the main theme of Mario 64 is one of my favorite pieces of game music – and this here, the “Staff Roll” – the credits theme – is the second best track in the game.

It’s an exact cover with some slight changes, and another homage to the genius of Koji Kondo, Nintendo’s Uematsu. We’ll be sure to revisit Mario in the future, especially for some more retro stuff… and maybe even new stuff. The Mario Galaxy soundtrack is amazing.

Did You Know?
Completing Super Mario 64 100% rewards players with a cannon outside the castle which allows them to reach the roof – where they’ll find Yoshi. You can’t ride him, and fan backlash over the lack of a ridable Yoshi led to his return in Super Mario Sunshine.

 

Cornered! (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney)

April 1st, 2009

This track was originally submitted for (and was the winner!) of a Phoenix Wright Arrangement Competition over on Gyakusheets, a Phoenix Wright sheet music website. I’d been meaning to play the Phoenix Wright games for some time but when I finally played them the thing that struck me most wasn’t the funny writing, the nice sprites or the clever (if simple) gameplay, but the amazing, amazing music.

This track is a pretty much direct cover of the music heard when you’ve finally got your suspect ‘Cornered!’ in court and they’re beginning to panic and weave even more far-fetched lies. We make use of our staples – Guitars, Organs, Drums, Bass, a bit of soloing, 3 part harmonies – all the stuff a lot of you have come to expect from our tracks.

Believe me when I say that the game itself is as exciting as the music that’s used. There’s many, many more standout tracks from Phoenix Wright, and I recommend you try it. We’re almost certain to pick out some more Phoenix Wright music in the future… it just rocks that much.

Remember to check out Our MySpace! We’ll gladly accept requests and suggestions from people who add us there, or via the contact page here on our website!

Did You Know?
The Phoenix Wright games in the USA were released on DS, but the series actually began life on the Game Boy Advance in Japan. The first three games were later ported to the DS with touchscreen functionality added.

 

Clash on the Big Bridge (Final Fantasy V)

February 6th, 2009

We’re back with yet another Battle Theme from the end of the Final Fantasy series now officially definied as ‘retro.’ Sandwiched between the fourth and sixth entries in the series, Final Fantasy V is often majorly overlooked, but if anyone remembers one thing from FF5, it’s this – The Clash on the Big Bridge.

Literally taking place on an area of the map called “The Big Bridge”, this section sees you going through continuous battles with this track looping until you reach Gilgamesh in his first of many appearances in the FF series. This track is a classic, really, yet another piece of true genius from Nobuo Uematsu. Because of this, we don’t mess with what isn’t broken, and do a fairly straight cover of the original – two loops – a second pass so that Lloyd can solo a little, as he so loves to do.

I’m really pleased now as I’ve finally managed to perfect an organ sound I like, and one that mimics the Black Mages a little, great for use in those Final Fantasy battle tunes. Expect to hear the organ a lot more in the future! The organ is the sole synth part in this, though… we wanted to keep it simple. Or as simple as you can get with three guitars, two organs, bass and drums. Which isn’t very when you’re mixing it!

Remember to check out Our MySpace! We’ll gladly accept requests and suggestions from people who add us there, or via the contact page here on our website!

Did You Know?
Gilgamesh is now one of the most recurring characters in the Final Fantasy series, appearing as both an enemy and a summonable esper.

 

Mad Catz Rock Band M.I.C. Review

February 5th, 2009

After our look at the Mad Catz Bass Guitar earlier this week, it’s time for our second look at the Mad Catz Accessory range for Rock Band, reviewed by us from TRW – guys with some real rock music experience.

That said, there’s not much we can say about microphones – in TRW we don’t use them for vocals, only for recording guitar. Back in the day the three of us used to be in a Punk Rock group and I was the singer, which meant a lot of contact with mics. From that experience I can tell you one thing right away: The standard Rock Band microphones don’t resemble your average stage mic whatsoever.

If I had to pick out problems with the standard Rock Band Microphone that wouldn’t be the number one issue, though. In a hectic party situation, all the Singer often does is select difficulty and sing – yet you’re required to keep a controller synced to the machine at all times to make these vital selections, burning through batteries and forcing the singer to constantly bend down and press A between songs.

In steps Mad Catz once again to solve the problems of Rock Band players everywhere with their M.I.C. – meaning Microphone with Integrated Controller. That’s right; this Rock Band accessory is a Microphone and a controller in one – allowing you to plug it in via USB and ditch that controller once and for all!

The controller is a realistic 1:1 interpretation of your average stage mic, too, making that fake rock experience just a little more realistic looking, and perfect for those with slightly bigger hands. The controller portion features all the buttons necessary to navigate through Rock Band’s menus – all the controller face buttons, leaving only the triggers and the sticks unrepresented.

To stop clumsy players from pausing their rocking-out mid song by gripping the mic too hard, the mic also includes a ‘lock’ – allowing the player to stop face buttons from functioning at all while you’re in the moment. The mic comes equipped with a 9 foot cable, more than adequate to allow for a bit of mic swinging while you’re rocking out.

The Bass Guitar was perhaps an option for Rock Band aficionados who play a lot of the game and want a new challenge. The mic, however, has become essential to our play. It saves controller batteries; it looks better, feels better and is more functional. Sure, it doesn’t sound any better – but for some people, that may be more of a blessing than a curse.

 

Mad Catz Rock Band Bass Guitar Review

February 3rd, 2009

We in TRW have been lucky enough to get some gear from the great guys over at MadCatz UK that relates to the Rock Band games. Despite all playing real musical instruments as the video game cover band you’re likely here at this website to read about, we very much enjoy playing with our fake plastic instruments too. Mad Catz have given us a look at their new instruments for the game, and this is the first of several posts where we give you our thoughts on them.

I’m about to bust a myth here: Bass isn’t a boring instrument. It’s a common misconception of music fans that bass as an instrument is secondary to guitar and – I quote somebody I know here – played by people who ‘just aren’t good enough to play full-blown guitar.’

Rubbish. Poppycock. We in TRW know this thanks to the limited musical capabilities of many of the videogame systems we cover music from. On a system that only allowed four tracks, you’d often have a lead track, melody track, drum track and a bass track. The bass would be forced to over the traditional rock instrument roles of both rhythm and bass. We try to keep hold of that feel when we cover older tracks, and as such the bass plays a vital role for us.

Another group of people that know the truth about the bass are the wonderful people at Harmonix, as proved by their very well chosen selection of tracks for Rock Band and their lovingly-constructed bass note-charts. One of the reasons I feel Rock Band is superior to its rivals is that the songs chosen are on the whole interesting for every member of the band; providing exciting drums and interesting bass in most songs, rather than the repetitive beats and bass lines many rock songs sport.

And a third player enters the group enlightened to the true importance of bass, with Mad Catz showing that Rock Band players who prefer playing the bass in a band needn’t be ashamed of taking the allegedly smaller role – indeed, they deserve to show off their choice in instrument with a realistic in-game bass replica.

The Mad Catz Fender Precision Bass is based off the real Bass Guitar of the same name, one I’m familiar with in real-life. It’s a true-to-life interpretation, accurate in size and scale to the real thing – smaller to the same degree that a Rock Band guitar is to a Fender Stratocaster. Because of this, the Bass towers over all the other plastic guitars in the TRW collection and is several inches taller. Combined with the sleek black-and-white finish, the size makes the thing look a lot less like a toy and more like a real instrument regardless of if it’s being played or not.

The button layout will be familiar to Rock Band users – five frets at the head of the guitar, and give ‘solo’ buttons higher up the neck. You’ll also find the familiar Start and Back Buttons, this time moulded into one flick-style switch which can be clicked into one direction to Start and another for Back. A second selector knob allows you to choose your overdrive setting, as on the standard controller. Other familiar areas include the Guide button and D-Pad. All the buttons are effectively camouflaged, positioned in the same place as volume knobs on a real Precision Bass.

Bass Guitars don’t have whammy bars, so neither does this accurate replica. It does, however, have a well-placed knob which can be turned to create the whammy effect in game so you don’t miss out on picking up extra overdrive power on those longer notes.

So what’s so special, you ask? Well… this is when we reach the strum bar. If you watch a real bassist play, many play ‘finger bass’, without a plectrum. This involves using your index and middle finger to hit the strings, resting your thumb on a specially placed bar above the strings. The Mad Catz bass features a unique split-strum bar design, allowing you to play those difficult note charts more easily by using two fingers to strum twice as quickly, just like on a real bass.

The next question on your lips is probably ‘is it any good?’ Well, to keep it short and sweet, yes. After several years of Guitar Hero and Rock Band with one type of strum bar it’s slightly difficult to make the switch to using two fingers, but it quickly becomes second nature – and once it does, we have actually found it works better than the single strum bar on the other guitars. Admittedly for some intense guitar solos two fingers aren’t ideal. But for its designed purpose – bass – almost every bass track in the game and my modest downloadable content selection were made easier and more fun to play by the use of the Mad Catz Fender Precision Bass.

The only real downside to the whole piece of kit is the fact it is wired and not wireless, especially as it’s more expensive than the Wireless Rock Band 2 Guitar. That said, even for this money and even with the wire tethering you to your console of choice, the Bass is definitely my favourite plastic instrument ever. If you’re a Rock Band player who wants an alternative that looks good, plays differently and adds a new facet to the bass charts in the game, this is definitely worth a look.

 

A Premonition ~ Chrono Trigger Redux

January 24th, 2009

Hey everyone! Hope all our visitors are having a good 2009 so far. We’ve been hard at work this January and have already begun work on around 8 new tracks that you’ll be seeing shortly. Our first album is now also 100% finished – we’re just deciding on some CD cover art you can all download and have as the ‘official’ cover for the first TRW album.

This post is mainly here to inform everyone we recently went back and rerecorded large sections of the track “A Premonition ~ Chrono Trigger”, which will be the first track on out second album. The version on this site has been updated to match, too, so check out the track page for the full download of the new version.

There’s going to be a new download winging it’s way to you next week. Keep your eyes peeled!