Should I Suck or Should I Blow? - Heavy Drapes (Suck-Revolution Records/Tarbeach Records)
When was the last time you heard a British guitar band with the energy of the Sex Pistols, swagger of the New York Dolls and great songs to boot? Scottish punk band Heavy Drapes (the name’s something to do with Malcolm McLaren/Vivienne Westwood’s shop, apparently) have been making quite an impact since the release of this impressive four-track EP (vinyl or CD on Suck Revolution Records), which has now been re-released as a US edition by New York-based Tarbeach Records.
While many UK punk bands have sunk into a mire of clichéd, pseudo-political lyrics and music to match, Heavy Drapes stand out due to the quality of their songs and the sheer exuberance with which they are performed. The four band members have all adopted appropriate noms de guerre; hence we have De Liberate on vocals, Rikki Stiv on guitar, Jerry Dangerous handling bass duties and Billy Chaos on the traps. Fortunately, there’s much more to this group than just a good dollop of old school show-biz pizazz (which they have in spades.) Heavy Drapes can back up their image with serious musical chops.
Title track "Should I Suck or Should I Blow?" marries clipped Clash/Kinks chords to an intriguing lyric worthy of Neil Young at his most subversive- there’s more going on under the surface here than is immediately apparent. The rhythm section injects a serious dose of rocket fuel, Jerry Dangerous’s bass recalling Glen Matllock, while Billy Chaos makes the whole shebang swing as well as rock. "Hanging Like a Suicide" follows, another hook-laden instant hit with a Slade-like super-catchy chorus; this could be a breakthrough single if radio playlists can cope with the provocative central metaphor.
Next up is an absolute peach, the highly addictive ‘Into the Blue’. Again, the chorus has the singalong catchiness of Slade or Sham 69, but this is a modern rock song that would surely appeal to a wider audience beyond the usual punk demographic. The lyrics seem to refer to depression, but the message is one of self-acceptance, and again the brash ebullience of the performance is irresistible.
The closing number of this fat-free EP, "Maladjusted", is a total blast, a high-energy doff of the cap to the New York Dolls that showcases Rikki Stiv’s skilful and intelligent guitar-playing, which has been a delight throughout all four tracks. Stiv drops in some neat Chuck Berry licks towards the end of the song, a subtle nod to a key Johnny Thunders influence, and there’s a lyrical MC5 reference in there, too.
Heavy Drapes have been touring hard this summer, building a reputation and a following as they go. On the strength of this EP, their debut album is going to be unmissable. Never mind the bollocks, this is the real deal.
Buy "Should I Suck or Should I Blow" UK edition direct from the band via their Facebook page, or the US release here.