Cowboy Mouth

Voodoo Shoppe

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Their status as a popular concert draw had never translated to album sales, so New Orleans rockers Cowboy Mouth went in a more hit-oriented direction for much of 2006's Voodoo Shoppe. The lead single, "Joe Strummer," is a self-conscious statement of priorities: singer Fred LeBlanc's dumping a girl who's demonstrated her insipidity by not knowing who the titular artist is. The song's mildly amusing, but repeat listens reveal it to be more or less a rewrite of Bowling for Soup's "1985." Cowboy Mouth are far better off with the wild rockers that gave the band its live reputation: the searing "Winds Me Up" and "I Told Ya," the latter evoking mid-'70s Kiss. Those two slammers are easily the high points of the album, but the giddy I'll-be-a-kid-forever vibes of "This Much Fun" and "Glad to Be Alive" will please longtime fans of the band as well. Poppier tracks like "Slow Down" are fun but the steam-cleaned productions are just too precious for their own good. More seriously, two of the final three tracks confront the unavoidable subject of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of their Louisiana home: "Fix yourself a drink" is the first order of business on the mournful, passionate "Home," while LeBlanc and Company play it straight on the inherently touching "The Avenue." Both tracks represent an unusually reserved, adult side of the group, confirming that they're quite capable of being much more than a party band. Still, unfortunately for Cowboy Mouth, Voodoo Shoppe proves half sure-fire, half misfire, their remarkable energy remaining frustratingly uncaptured in the studio.

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