revoke their diplomas!
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


"The Physics of Meaning." One day we'll have a physics of time-travel, okay, and Daniel Hart & Alex Lazara can go back in time and change their band's totally stupid name. The undergraduate cleverness of the name was enough to make me dismiss them outright - and my opinion did not improve as I perused the nonsense on their website.

But - (buts being so often responsible for the best things in life) - The Physics of Meaning is well on its way to great. While Hart plays a violin (yes, like Final Fantasy, Patrick Wolf and Andrew Bird), his band sounds more like Grandaddy, Broken Social Scene, John Vanderslice - crunchy drums, backward-spinning electric guitars, tumbles into cut glass. Though the lyrics sometimes carry the insipid philosophising bemoaned above, often they fall closer to the giddy side of emo: everyday phrases repeated until they begin to glow. The strings are arranged marvelously, with unexpected harmonies and then sudden dashes of feeling. At their best - stripped to modest pretensions, pop music instead of treatise, - they're electrifying.

The Physics of Meaning - "Down at Columbia and Cameron". See this is what I'm talking about. Roll-over-and-over drums, blended vocals that would make Fountains of Wayne blush, and it's a song about girls (or maybe boys - he doesn't specify). There's a breeziness here, the way the synths bump into the strings like they've been distracted by some cherry-blossoms. More exciting still is the way the band finds another vibe in the second half - a woozy regalness, the prince having a lazy spring fever spazz-out. The sort of song you want to parcel into a parcel, tape up, and send over the water to make someone smile.

The Physics of Meaning - "Manhattan Is An Island". Drum machine, boy and girl, Notwists of synth: a slippery song, slick and supple, strings sneering. And then the slap of sound, the surge of static, the ceiling slipping. I love the aqueous feel of the whole thing, with the vocals set slightly apart. (On an island, natch.) But when the voices stop and the skyscrapers begin to fall; well, they fall.

Also highly recommended - "Oregon, My Only True Friend", available here.

[buy for a scant US$12]

Mogwai - "We're No Here". The final track of the upcoming Mr Beast has a massive girth, a total ambivalence to everything - like the fat Mr Beast has come strolling through your door, stamping down the kids, tearing handfuls out of the drywall, gobbling your chandelier, raking finger-nails through the art. If he drinks, it's milk, and water, and crude oil. It's not him that lights things on fire - it's the punks who follow. Mogwai's always been a part-time metal band but now at last they're playing fat metal chords, too; they're playing with the gravity of the melody, seeing how weighty this instrumental rock can be, seeing how far they can throw the rock down the well.

[album not available for pre-order yet, so buy Mogwai things here]


The trailer for Sofia Coppola's next movie, Marie Antoinette is now available. And holy cow does it look great. I love the braveness in its choices, the period-drama mixed with late 20th C coming-of-age: arm waving out the side of a coach, royals scampering down the manor stairs to the electric yellow of Bernard Sumner's voice. History is just lives, and how I love to see these lives filled with a familiar shade of vitality. The title graphic makes me grin ear to ear.

A newly uncovered Elliott Smith song at (the indispensable) You Ain't No Picasso.

New little Skinny live reviews by me: Hawk and a Hacksaw/George, Martha Wainwright.

Last chance: Our BMR/haiku contest ends Monday night is now closed.

Posted by Sean at December 12, 2005 12:01 AM

That Mogwai track is so good! I suspect Mr. Beast to be one of my favorites for 2006. I've heard the track "Glasgow Mega-Snake" and its equally as metalicious.

Posted by brent at December 11, 2005 8:58 PM

Sean, I saw you mentioned in the NYT today (Carl Wilson on FF). I first heard Owen Pallet on your blog earlier this year and have since been enamored. So, thanks and congrats.

Posted by Kyle at December 11, 2005 9:51 PM

age of consent???? how utterly, completely perfect. that's amazing.

Posted by cody at December 11, 2005 11:14 PM

holy shit, that trailer's amazing. sad rich girls.

Posted by dan at December 12, 2005 12:24 AM

Mogwai is insane!!!

Posted by chris at December 12, 2005 3:17 AM

With reference to your 'but' comment: I was once told 'everything before the 'but' is bullshit'.

You just see how often in life that proves true.

Posted by Species 8472 at December 12, 2005 6:54 AM


New Mogwai!

Thank you, thank you and thrice thank you!

Can't wait to hear the new album.

Posted by Richard at December 12, 2005 7:27 AM

Only Sofia Coppola could use a New Order track for a period-drama and make it seem like the perfect choice. Well, her or Wes Anderson (as if we needed any more evidence of their roles as each other's foils, hello Jason Schwartzman). But Wes Anderson would never do a period-drama. Would he?

I completely agree with "History is just lives". Or the sentiment behind it, anyway. Unfortunately, history is often what's left over when the details and meaty human stories are forgotten. Brava to her for taking that loss head on and humanizing history. Looks amazing.

Posted by Andrew Rose at December 12, 2005 9:50 AM

that trailer looks very cool. very amadeus (one of my favorite movies ever).

Posted by george at December 12, 2005 1:37 PM

All right, I give, what New Order song is that, I know I have it, b/c I've heard it before, but I'd rather not scour through 4-6 CDs worth of stuff to find it. So what's called? Anyone?

Posted by caley at December 12, 2005 3:13 PM

Caley, it's "Age of Consent".

I find it unfortunate but amusing that the Marie Antoinette is of more interest than the Physics of Meaning. :)

Posted by Sean at December 12, 2005 3:31 PM

Thanks for the link :) I don't think I told you, but now that I'm used to the new look, I love it. I need some html/java lessons from you guys so as to keep my site looking pristine. I guess part of it is the lack of ads, huh? Haha. You idealists ;) You guys are seriously the best blog around for all sorts of reasons.

Keep it up!

-Matt from YANP

Posted by Matt at December 13, 2005 2:29 AM

I hate your Martha Wainwright review.

Posted by Bubbachups at December 13, 2005 7:15 AM

The Physics of Meaning tracks are a fantastic find, serpentine yet emotionally resonant. Thanks! Did they e-mail you, or did you find them on an incidental internet expedition?

Posted by Yoshi at December 13, 2005 11:49 AM

The Physics of Meaning tracks are good--it's as if they've only listened to Death Cab's Something About Airplanes. Very similar.

Posted by Jon at December 13, 2005 6:13 PM

Further proof that all you need to do in order to make the kids think you're a genius is film some white kids looking sad while indie/80's music plays in the background.

Posted by nofrontin at December 13, 2005 10:49 PM

it's great to see our local the physics of meaning on this site. i have liked these songs... i live off cameron!!! on raleigh street.

Posted by tim+ at December 14, 2005 4:58 PM

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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