Billy Reese Peters - Almost Heaven (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Billy Reese Peters

Almost Heaven (2006)

No Idea

Billy Reese Peters. The name is a bit misleading. A random old Southern drunk uncle-type who traded a runaway girl from Texas for a shotgun? Well, yes, according to the band's press sheet. But Billy Reese Peters is also a decade-old Gainesville quintet with members of Grabass Charlestons, Army of Ponch and Hair Beard Combo whose gruff but melodic brand of pop-punk testimony chronicles drunken debauchery, good times and hard drugs.

Yep: ‘Org-asm.

Spread between five members, Billy Reese Peters might initially seem already overcrowded for a pop-punk band, but witnessing the addition of auxiliary musicians in the form of a trombonist, a saxist, a third guitarist and three backup vocalists, Almost Heaven wouldn't have been a complete package any other way. Out the gates with horns blaring like Rocket from the Crypt on a dose of Radon, "The Night That ‘Dude' Became a Four-Letter Word" tops the album's best tracks, though the band's similarly brass'ed cover of CCR's "Travelin' Band" is equally entertaining. "Boner City Limits" is an amusing number about the nauseating glory of being in an R-rated touring punk band, and is also probably the only outright cheery song on the LP. Everything else - from the coke-blown miseryfest of "(Crack) Rock Opera" to the hungover hopelessness of "Bathroom Floor" -- is rather dreary, running along thematic parallels of labelmates Off with Their Heads, though a shade less narrative. The overtly suicidal/sing-along "Mexico" paints the band's lyrical paradigm: "I want to be on a beach in Mexico / Smoking reefer, doing big lines of blow / And when I die, I want to fucking know…why everyday I wish this thirst would go away." "'F' That Crap" has only one line, but is (as you can imagine) just as negative as the rest of the record.

What's interesting is that despite the pessimism and woe, Almost Heaven is actually kind of a fun album. You can almost tell just from the chord patterns and melodies that the band has a good time, and you wouldn't be a sadist if you enjoy hearing "I'll just keep carrying on with my intestinal death assault / And you can find me passed out in my backyard." That's the way Billy Reese Peters wants it, and that's what we get.