Zac Wood is building up his own reality. When one isn’t satisfied with their world, then what else is there to do? For Wood, after being in numerous bands, he decided to tackle the challenge of being his own one-man project. The first step was plucking an enigmatic name, Bear Flambe’, from the seemingly endless evolving list of band names. Then there was the small matter of recording an entire album under that moniker, Laying Brick, which just dropped and is an apt title considering what Wood has been up to these past months. And it’s all paying off. The 10 tracks on Brick are rife with Dada-esque lyrics, maniacal laughter, and whip smart post punk riffs. It’s glorious. “You’ve had enough to drink/ NOW PUT DOWN THE SPATULA!”
The band name emerged from an interesting variation of the Burroughs/Gysin cutup method. Wood and his girlfriend put two hats side-by-side. In one was four nouns. The other held the verbs. They popped them in the chapeaus, mixed them around and then grabbed one noun and one verb. They placed them next to each other to see what the band name would be, Bear Grill, a harmonious enough moniker although some due diligence led to the discovery that the name was taken by another band. When in doubt, go French and problem solved. “I didn’t want it to make sense. I mean, what does Tame Impala mean?”
“My collar may be blue/I may not make much money/I’m happier not running through your hoops.” Tracks like “Circle In A Square”, laced with soul searching and the mockery and musing on useless college courses and patronizing rom coms, feature spoken word lyrics, ringing, tracked guitars, and plenty of attitude. Much of the record sounds like Nick Cave in his Birthday Party party days trying to write in the style of Tom Waits. And like both of those craggy old greats, Wood is unafraid to birth songs swathed in the cloth of perverse observation. When floating atop his simple but crisp drumming and lo-fi guitar heroics, those observations make for great songs on this debut.
Bear Flambe’ seems poised to stake their claim in the current resurrection of dark, knotty post punk devoid of doctored up pretension led by English phenoms Black Midi. As a matter of fact, Wood told us if he could only take the music of three bands to the Island of Misunderstanding, he would load up the playlist with Sonic Youth, Parquet Courts, and, yes, Black Midi. Yet while BF is certainly indebted to certain aspects from each of these three bands, not to mention some Micheal Gira wailing on the final track, there’s nothing generic or studied on Brick. This is shake up, wake up music designed for the here and now, not drenched in nostalgia or aimed at Spotify algorithms. “Wise up man/woman. Step out of your bubble of pretend. It’s happening all around you. Open your eyes”
Zac Wood has created a monster all his own.
For us, art is not an end in itself … but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.