We Had New Inventions

My uncle was once the driving force between every single band I ever loved—or hated.

Early memories of being chased out of my front yard by a little red car blasting Insane Clown Posse songs continue to make me want to sock him in the arm at odd moments.

Just the same, as his taste in music improved, so did mine. This leading to stolen Hole CDs, hundreds of illegally downloaded songs when Napster was brand new.

We used to sit around the computer screen in awe.

“Hey, it’s taken like 20 minutes to download the first 23 percent! Dude, this one is going super fast!”

We’re a little bit closer in age, so the dynamic has always been much more older brother than uncle. The kind of brother that is unspeakably irritating and unbelievably wise in the same breath.

But things have gotten better as we have grown older. No longer taunting me with awful rap-metal, now he just sends me extremely enthusiastic texts about what songs I need to immediately look up on playlist.com (not necessarily stealing, and much faster than Napster.)

And five minutes later, the clarifying, “Have you listened to it yet?”

Almost never.

His tastes have gotten better, and less frightening, with age.

So the dynamic is better. I have things to bring to the table now too. CDs to be burned, zip drives to be filled, and a shiny new iPod that is so very much fun to play with.

And he has songs that I would never have given a second glance.

At the beginning of the school year, he sat me down in a front of the computer and had me listen to a song so beautiful and sad that I started to tear up into the keyboard. A song about a poetry-writing, suicidal robot.

Grandaddy (the sad robot band) is this brilliant band from the late 90s and early 00s. My uncle calls them the far superior, American version of Radiohead. I call them amazing, but please don’t bring superiority over Radiohead into this. No matter which way you look at them, they are fantastic and weird. Kind of like an American Radiohead.

A few weeks later it was insanely enthusiastic text messages about this guy who mixes all my favorite things about Beirut with electronic bleeps and bloops and an effect that I shall continue to call vocoder.

He told me they were called Alaska in Winter as I sat there with a goofy grin on my face. Before asking me if I wanted to know why they were named that.

“Because the dude went up to Alaska during the winter and made this album.”

Enough said, I suppose.

In any case, we’ve become collectively obsessed with this dude and even more so when he released a second album a couple months ago which was even better than the first one was. We are now collectively biding our time until this guy comes to Seattle. I am crossing my fingers that Beirut will be in tow.

Anyway, the music is sweet and sad and perfect. Again, amazing and weird.

After years of trying to get it right I think we’ve got a pretty good music exchange going.


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