LIVE: Prettiest Eyes @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Oh Sees raucous label mates Prettiest Eyes sure know how to make a racket, evidenced in Leeds a few weeks back.
Posted: 10 April 2020 Words: Lorna Gray

Any knowledgeable garage rock fan is (or should be) enlightened with the impact that pioneers Californian noise-dwellers Oh Sees have garnered through their extensive and versatile list of releases and unparalleled live shows. Currently delivering an album-per-year on average, each as divergent from the last, the creative energy of founder and creator John Dwyer seems to know no bounds. Which is why any band associated with such is worthy of attention. It can be all too easy to sneak in after the supporting act at a show, but doing so for Dwyer’s Castle Face label mates and most recent touring partners Prettiest Eyes would have been a grave mistake. As part of their own headline UK tour in support of their most recent release ‘Volume 3’, the trio take to Leeds’ beloved Brudenell Social Club to demonstrate why.

As a further testament to the importance in watching the support acts, Leeds’ very own Dense do more than warm up in their set, as the onslaught of feedback ridden fuzz is enough to shake the very bones within your body. It’s loud, it’s manic, and seems to have successfully brought punters in from the sanctuary of the familiar bar next door - a difficult feat for any act. Reverb-drenched vocals screech over complex, melodic doom riffs and hysteric drums, the only thing seemingly stopping a keen crowd from edging closer being the potential risk of tinnitus.

Prettiest Eyes’ unique dynamic is responsible for an even more unique sonic experience, inclusive of sludgy bass, wailing keys, and unpredictable punchy drums, this is a band that clearly take a leaf out of Dwyer’s book, but do so well, with their own, consistently heavier, punk spin. At points, beats become so repetitive they transform into trippy reverberations, giving into the psychedelic elements that any imprint of Castle Face would proudly boast. Simpler song structure is favoured for complex, erratic and idiosyncratic sounds, creating an enticing performance. 

It took a short while for the crowd to warm up and meet the band’s level, but once they had, the movements of the audience matched the frenzied and chaotic energy of the three-piece. Bass is clearly the driving force and sole structure behind the disordered noise, not only shown through Marco’s confident and unsettling plucking at strings, but through his animated stage presence. He strides across the length of the stage, handing his guitar out to spectators, allowing those in attendance to firstly immerse then surrender themselves to the weapon responsible for the aural attack. When the notes are less dominant, his hips continuously trace and snake the rhythm of his instrument with hypnotic, smooth transitions, these grinding motions are as filthy as the throbbing riffs.

Bringing Dense vocalist Charlie back to assist in track ‘The Shame’, offering an alternative and much gritter rendition than that of vocalist and drummer Pachy’s take, the set’s penultimate track further confirms the band’s unpredictability. Closing on ‘It Costs To Be Austere', it’s clear Prettiest Eyes are as gratified with the showcase as their audience. 

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