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Cowboy Mouth
UH-OH
(33rd Street)
Stars graphics

Cowboy Mouth have often been pegged as a party band, but this is the first time they’ve really made a party album. Toning down the country and roots elements of previous discs, this one’s loud and fast all the way through, with a real embarrassment of great hooks and nothing longer than four minutes. In fact there are at least a half-dozen songs that sound more like hit singles than the band’s past hits "Jenny Says" and "Whatcha Gonna Do." Chief among them are the lust-driven, R&B-flavored title track (which evokes their New Orleans home as much as anything they’ve recorded); the arena-esque rouser "Invincible"; and "Friends," one of the funniest and least tactful break-up songs in memory. As always, the lyrics sneak in a warm and thoughtful side when you least expect one.

What’s strange is that this isn’t technically a real Cowboy Mouth album: the group was in flux and changing bass players when it was recorded, and the Internet rumor is that singer/drummer Fred LeBlanc made most of the album by himself. One track is indeed repeated verbatim from a LeBlanc solo album, and singer/guitarists John Thomas Griffith and Paul Sanchez are in evidence only on the three tracks they wrote. The group harmonies and Griffith’s guitar leads are missed, but LeBlanc steps up and makes sure it has enough diversity to pass as a band album — even starting the disc with its most off-the-wall track, a technofied version of the Beatles’ "Tomorrow Never Knows." As a result Uh-Oh has the spirit of the group’s full-throttle live shows, if not the actual sound.

BY BRETT MILANO


Issue Date: October 10 - 16, 2003
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