Personnel: The Hound of Love, Chug Norris (vocals, guitar, synthesizer, drums, tambourine); Billy Jeans, Ryan Guzzling (vocals, guitar).
Audio Mixer: Adam Becker.
Recording information: King Size North, Hollywood, CA (2014); Red Lantern, Portland, OR (2014); Trash Treasury (2014); King Size North, Hollywood, CA (2015); Red Lantern, Portland, OR (2015); Trash Treasury (2015).
Photographer: Charlie Votruba.
If you've chosen to be dumb for a living, you'll soon discover it requires a lot more commitment than you might think. Plenty of bands have made a name for themselves by sounding like dolts, but Mean Jeans have managed to put out three full-length albums while still sounding like half-bright burnouts. Being able to progress while still sounding dumb as a log is a rare accomplishment, and Mean Jeans somehow pull it off on 2016's Tight New Dimension. Musically, this band sounds tighter, faster, and cleaner on this album, still wholly beholden to the Ramones but pulling off the downstroke-heavy attack with a snarky pop accent. Leader Billy Jeans is still trying to sing like Joey Ramone, but he's closer to hitting his target than he was on the band's first two albums. And melodically, Mean Jeans are writing better songs than before, all still simple as dirt but with a hooky sensibility that's fun and engaging. Of course, what hasn't changed is that Mean Jeans are still as stupid as they want to be. Numbers like "Michael Jackson Was Tight," "4 Coors Meal," and "I Don't Care That I Don't Care" are just as thick-headed as the titles suggest. And even when the lyrics are funny (which happens roughly 40 percent of the time), this band's humor is no less crushingly obvious than ever. While the Ramones were smart guys with a gift for sounding dumb, Mean Jeans are smarter than they let on but not nearly as clever as their role models. Tight New Dimension succeeds on Mean Jeans' own goofy terms, and it's good fun while it lasts. But if Mean Jeans ever hope to move beyond musical high school, they're going to have to learn how to live without their dunce caps. ~ Mark Deming