The last we heard from Grandpa’s Cough Medicine was with their 2012 album, The Murder Chord. It’s title track suggested that a heavy metal chord existed that could induce suburban teens to knock off their parents.
They take a similarly irreverent, impertinent and even somewhat audacious turn on their latest CD, 180 Proof. I mean their web domain is www.outlawbluegrass.com. This Sunshine State trio telegraphs where they’re coming from pretty clearly.
Listening to 180 Proof is a bit like bringing a raucous party band home with you from an all-night jam and bacchanalia. Songs about drinkin’ and shootin’ make up a high percentage of the 15 tracks, most written with a wry, tongue-in-cheek, smile-when-you-say-that sort of grin.
But on this project you’ll hear higher production values than on previous releases, and guest appearances from Randy Kohrs, Jason Carter, Aaron Till and Hank Williams III, owing to the band having won a major band contest in Jacksonville, FL in April 2014. The band says that they played 19 sets of music, totaling 19 hours, at last year’s One Spark festival, and won the attendee vote by a wide margin. They took their winnings, along with a bag of rowdy songs, to Slack Key studio in Nashville, where they turned out this fun, and often quite funny, album.
An example would be Every Critter In The County, about a fella who ended up on an all-fish diet after he killed all the game…
Well he done killed every critter in the county
Took a bit too much of nature’s bounty
And soon he’ll lose his mind over a tangled fishin’ line
‘Cause he done killed every critter in the county
Or Brand New .22, which starts off seemingly as a song about picking up a new handgun…
Traded my ol’ .44 for a brand new .22
Given the chance that’s what any man should do
…but you quickly realize that the singer is talking about a new girlfriend instead.
A man is only as old as the woman he feels.
They tackle semi-serious topics here as well, as in Westboro Waltz, where the singer shoots the familiar protesters as they protest at his father’s funeral.
One thing that sets these guys apart from many of the rowdy, bluegrass-ish sorts of bands out there is that they really do have some chops, and have clearly played their share of grass. Banjo player Mike Coker is a solid picker, as is guitarist Brett Bass, who shares the vocal duties with bass player Jon Murphy.
If you are easily offended, or fail to enjoy frat-boy, male-centric humor, save yourself the aggravation and give this one a miss. But those who appreciate the genre will find many a chuckle here. It’s not high art, but could be a great party album for your next festive occasion.