Used to be that Cowboy Mouth, a band of giddy, sweaty New Orleans rockers enjoying an overgrown childhood on the road, only released albums to introduce the material they’d be adding to their set list, not out of any delusions of sales. The proverbial “band whose live energy cannot be captured in the studio” tries a different tack with Voodoo Shoppe, aiming for radio-friendlier pop singles with the mild misfires “Joe Strummer” and “Glad to Be Alive.” The former is an assertion of good taste über alles that inadvertently links them with the novelty-pop of Bowling for Soup, the latter an expression of lead singer–drummer Fred LeBlanc’s aggressive optimism that dips into the ’90s doot’n’doo semi-charmed songbook for a hook. “Strummer” is the single, but “Winds Me Up” and “I Told Ya” are where the action is, where Cowboy Mouth get the spirit of ’76: The riffs are Ace and Gene, the pulse Flamin’ Groovies. Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, an unavoidable topic, is acknowledged without self-pity in “Home” and “The Avenue,” the band sounding curiously close to fellow NOLAmite Marc Broussard, their resolve assuring us that good times will roll again soon.
Cowboy Mouth play the Bowery Ballroom March 9.