Extreme Alt-Country

Your Therefore Experience
The Cousin Lovers (Therefore Records)

By Tim Roberts

For the first part of this decade Louisville's Love Jones stormed through and out of the city with a sound that was one part martini-lounge samba, one part light soul from the early 1970s. Arguably, they were the band that put Louisville on the map as one of the most creative and exciting music scenes (or, if you prefer, the tired moniker of Music Mecca) after relocating to the West Coast and releasing two recordings on Sire. But was their sound a parody of a disco lounge act or just a warm valentine to it? It didn't matter. The songs were fun. The sound was groovy. The high point may have been the tender, full-band harmonies on "World of Summer" from Powerful Pain Relief, their swan song.

The question comes up again now that two former Love Jones-ers, bassist Barry Thomas and drummer Stuart Johnson, are part of a country/bluegrass band called The Cousin Lovers. So is Your Therefore Experience a parody of a band fit for an evening's performance at Gilley's? It doesn't matter. You won't hear this hot a blend of by-the-books country and bluegrass out of Nashville anytime soon.

Along with Thomas and Johnson are Tim Ferguson on lead vocals, mandolin, and guitar, Craig Eastman on fiddle, viola, and Dobro, and Dean Thomas on guitar and backing vocal. Sherri McGee adds her voice to the track "13 Stars." Incidentally, he band's name is a sanitized version of an obscene euphemism that stereotypes Kentuckians.

The angry, racy tone of the lyrics will not make them any friends in the music scene now derided as Nash Vegas. That's made clear in the opening line of second track, "That's Why God Made You," recorded live at the Cozy Inn in Los Angeles. Ferguson sings, "acid wash cowboys all over the radio / Lord forgive them for they know not what they do / George Jones Willie Loretty where did you go . . ." There's also the edgy identity politics of being Southern in "13 Stars," which has the lines, "I've been a rebel I suppose / never been on the winning side God knows . . . / I've seen no peace and I'll see no rest / with these 13 stars branded on my chest."

Included among the tracks is a slow, sad waltz (conveniently titled "Waltz"), a friendly two-step number ("Hwy 78"), and a smoking pair of rapid-fire Bluegrass instrumentals.

They have a sound that makes you want to live in denim and drink Lone Star. They have a name that throws a bitter stereotype back into your face. Your Therefore Experience: a subversive taste of an authentic country sound that has been drained away by the current Nashville establishment.