Tight New Dimension
Like the Ramones and Screeching Weasel, Portland’s Mean Jeans play aggressive, rigid punk rock of the three-chord variety, pumping songs out in three minutes or less. As staid as that might sound, there’s a very valid reason that bands like Mean Jeans continue to proffer their sonic-melodic wares in the punk world: It’s unabashedly fun, inspiring and, usually, pretty goddamn funny. The band’s raucous live shows are polished a bit on Tight New Dimension, whittled down to bite-size tunes about the legacy of the King of Pop on “Michael Jackson Was Tight” and alcohol on “4 Coors Meal.” And there’s also the surprisingly thoughtful pseudo-ballad about the afterlife, “Are There Beers in Heaven?” It’s a party-punk record of the highest order, brimming with anthemic choruses, easy little leads and honest lyricism that dispenses with the cerebral and instead embraces apathy, specifically on songs like the crazy-catchy “I Don’t Care That I Don’t Care.” This release is a big step up for the band, whose notoriety in the Pacific Northwest was intact, but who’d struggled to maintain a toehold outside of Portland. Go get ’em.