While Florida could be considered the Death Metal Capital of the USA, that doesn’t mean the Sunshine State isn’t in tune with its grass as well - Outlaw Bluegrass, that is! Exploding onto the music scene with their killer 2012 release “The Murder Chord,” it was somewhat curious what Grandpa’s Cough Medicine had in the bag for their follow up. Their first release featured the three Florida shredders singing about hillbillies, the bottle, a boy and his dog, crooked cops, a beauty named Julianne, and a bloody murder chord. So as you can take a hit and see, the guys could have taken 420 different directions with their next release in which they purely labeled, “180 Proof.”
After winning Florida’s ONE SPARK 2014 crowdfunding award for music and taking home a $izable paycheck, the bong was finally packed enough to get Grandpa’s Cough Medicine back into the studio, ready to finalize the cultivation of “180 Proof.” The band consists of Brett Bass, Jon Murphy, and Mike Coker who escape the typical expectations of mainstream pickin’ and instead, choose to challenge string music fans with an original brand of straightforward, somewhat lyrically dark, progressive Bluegrass with a deeply-ingrained Outlaw spirit. The songs are consistently fast-paced with plenty of attitude, and feature lyrics as witty as they are candid. The distinct cover illustration for “180 Proof” was grown by Avery Robinson and perfectly captures a few of the ingredients that make Grandpa’s Cough Medicine so potent.
The title and first track from the album “180 Proof” is an up tempo, shredtastic composition of top quality stomp grass featuring a guest spot from the legendary Hank III. The track is an absolute burner and sets the tone from the very beginning, clearly demonstrating the boys’ musical growth and distinct outlaw spirit. “Midnight Coker” gives way to album producer and Bluegrass Grammy Award winner Randy Kohrs joining in and lending his dobro skills. Every now and then there is a certain drift, a blues jive driving moment of force combined with their signature stomp grass and this can be heard in “Mama Played Bass,” with Isaac Corbitt joining in on harmonica. Up pitch tracks “Every Critter in the County,” “Brand New .22,” and (sure to be someone’s party favorite) “Respect the Shine,” continue the signature flow and pace that we all love about Grandpa’s Cough Medicine.
Powered by grass, it probably wasn’t a hard sell to enlist a little backup from Jason Carter and Aaron Till on one of the album’s instrumental gems, “Flat Pick-Diculous.” Subsequent tracks include “Denim Prison,” an upbeat, blues-favored shred, another instrumental jam called “Keel’s Reel,” and then going door-to-door threatening pedophiles, we have the straightforward track “Blood and Justice.” Standing up for kids, and rising tall for our veterans, while always protected by the 2nd, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine has one more tempered salute to fire off with final track “Westboro Waltz,” featuring Jason Carter and Aaron Till a second time. Vocalist Brett Bass and the guys have never been afraid to consistently pen blunt honesty straight into their songs, which is quite refreshing.
Displaying excellent musicianship, home-schooled bloody pickin’, amusing lyrics, and a touch of obscurity, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine has mastered its own version of Outlaw Bluegrass, while creating space for continued development. With fifteen tracks written from the heart, and diluted in a lil’ sin, the boys from Florida continue to shape the realms of bluegrass music in their own original way. The bottom line is, if you like “180 Proof,” a little grass and some sunshine, you’ll get along just fine with Grandpa’s Cough Medicine! I give this album 4.5 out of 5 joints. Even with way too many “La La Lolly’s,” this album remains a progressive step in the musical evolution and expansion of Grandpa’s Cough Medicine! Bluegrass is lucky to have them, and soon the West Coast will be taking notice!
“180 Proof” Track Listing:
1. 180 Proof (featuring Hank Williams III)
2. Liquid Courage
3. Midnight Coker (featuring Randy Kohrs)
4. Van Trip
5. Mama Played Bass (featuring Isaac Corbitt)
6. Every Critter In The County
7. Brand New .22
8. Respect the Shine
9. Flat Pick-Diculous (featuring Jason Carter and Aaron till)
10. A Song for Bass and Banjo
11. Denim Prison
12. La La Lolly
13. Keel’s Reel
14. Blood and Justice
15. Westboro Waltz (featuring Jason Carter and Aaron Till)