Friday, February 28, 2014

Flashback Friday: New Rock by Buffalo Daughter

And now – a band most of you have probably never heard of. But first – a quick detour into history courtesy of the Beastie Boys.

In 1992, at the height of their popularity, the Beastie Boys set up a vanity record label called Grand Royal. Grand Royal had an eclectic roster of artists, including Sean Lennon, Luscious Jackson, Money Mark, At The Drive-In, Bran Van 3000 and many more.

One of my favorite releases of theirs was 1998’s “New Rock” by a Japanese band called Buffalo Daughter. This group consisted of a guitar player/vocalist (suGar), a bass player/keyboardist (Yumiko) and a turntablist/graphic designer (MoOog), augmented by a drummer and other musicians.

You can listen to it here:
New Rock by Buffalo Daughter (Xbox Music)

According to Wikipedia: Buffalo Daughter [are] considered to be the linchpin of the so-called “cut-and-paste” rock Shibuya-kei movement from Japan. Other Shibuya-kei bands include Pizzicato Five and Cibo Matto. (I was initially going to write about Cibo Matto, since they have a new album out, but my favorite release of theirs isn’t available for streaming. I’ll pick another one of their records soon, possibly the new one if I can get my head wrapped around it.)

That’s a good starting point for this record – cut and paste. Sometimes this record sounds like a ‘60s lounge album, sometimes it sounds like a broken sampler, and other times, it sounds like a lost German progressive Krautrock album. It’s these progressive songs – where they downplay the sampling and stretch out a little – that really make the record for me. Check out my favorite song “Sky High” – track 12 – to see what I mean. Other highlights for me include the long workouts “Super Blooper” and “Autobacs”.

Anyway – travel back to the New York music scene in 1998, give this record a spin and see what you think.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Trip to Orcas Island & the Outlook Inn in Eastsound, WA - Feb. 21st to Feb. 24th, 2014

(from the All Snowed In department)

Hi everyone,

We took a family trip to the San Juans last weekend.  Dana got a great deal at a place called the Outlook Inn in Eastsound, WA located on Orcas Island.  I have been to San Juan Island (and the city of Friday Harbor) many times, but I've never been to Orcas Island. 

Orcas Island is interesting.  It's the largest of the San Juans, but it has no cities.  There are towns, but they're "unincorporated communities", if you will.  Eastsound is relatively large for a town - there are grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, gift shops, etc. - but there are no streetlights.  When the sun goes down - it gets DARK! 

We arrived in Eastsound on a Friday afternoon, and were rewarded by the scenery:

(Note:  The island you see just offshore is apparently called Indian Island)

Very nice indeed.  We checked into our hotel:

and got this view from the balcony:

(This was taken Saturday morning - too dark on Friday.  No streetlights, remember?)

The next morning - Saturday - we set off on an Orcas Island adventure.  Orcas Island is basically shaped like a lowercase "n".  Eastsound is at the apex, so we traveled down the right leg towards Rosario resort, Moran State Park, Mt. Constitution and Doe Bay.  We had lunch at Doe Bay - it was wonderful.  Here's a few photos of the cafe and Rose enjoying "The Best Hot Chocolate Ever!!!":

(Hot chocolate - locally sourced!)

Outside, there was a cool statue overlooking the fog enshrouded water:

As we headed back to Eastsound, we took a detour to the town of Olga.  This is it:

 There was a third building, but it burned down:

Coming back through Moran State Park, it started to snow:

Sadly - the road to Mt. Constitution was closed.  Probably a good thing too, with all the snowfall.  But it was clear by the time we reached Rosario Resort:

We had a great tour inside Rosario Resort and Spa - we got to see the museum, and hear the pipe organ.  Then we headed back to our hotel in Eastsound, dodging a snow flurry or two, unware of the surpise awiting us tomorrow morning:

Yes - that's right.  Snow on Sunday.  It totally transformed the landscape.  We were planning on heading back, but based on the cars we saw slipping around, we decided to stay another night and head back on Monday.  So - we ventured out into the snow to explore Eastsound:

(Get ready for snowballs.  Rose threw them at us non-stop)

It was pretty miserable out there:

But - luckily - Darvill's bookstore was open and they had hot chocolate!  We warmed ourselves up at the bookstore, then headed back to our hotel room to watch movies, do puzzles and enjoy the fireplace, while the snow fell silently outside.

Still - it was a lot of fun having a "snow day".  The weather reports were saying that the snow would start melting around 4:00 AM, so we figured that tomorrow morning there wouldn't be much snow left.  Instead:

Yeah - there was more snow.  The weather service updated the alert to 4:00 PM and mentioned more snow was expected.  Dana & I figured that we better try to catch the noon ferry.  The roads had been freshly plowed, the air wasn't nearly as foggy and there was better traction with the fresh snow. 
It was kinda white knuckle driving - Dana is an awesome driver - but we made it to the ferry terminal in Orcas Village.  And - yup - no snow:

All in all, a great family adventure!  Here are some parting thoughts: