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Mean Jeans: A NW Pop

It’s funny to think that the Ramones are responsible for such a wide breadth of latter day punk stuffs. The approach that the New York band took to music was a relatively straight forward one. Including the tossed off charm of its garage rock heroes, the Ramones liberally applied girl-group sucrose to its punk to arrive at an undeniably important – and moreover, listenable art form.

With that basic blue print laid out bands like Screeching Weasel, the Descendents and whoever else was out there would take a bit of the Ramones’ pop frenzy and add various other takes on the genre based upon where the bands were located to create a second wave of Ramonesy rock. That formula has basically kept every disparate scene knee deep in pop-punk since the ‘70s. Some proponents – the Lookout! bands specifically – were able to catch the ear of the nation during the ‘90s. And while Green Day’s still kicking around, the band doesn’t any longer retain it’s auld tymey sound.

Thankfully, though, bands like Mean Jeans have showed up to fill the void.

Portland isn’t really generally thought of when mentioning new time punk foragers. Surely, the low brow rock of Eat Skull comes to mind. Or even the defunct Hunches. But most folks would associate the town with art school dudes who moved down from Seattle, packing their beards and brining them along for the ride - not straight punk.

Mean Jeans don’t have beards. I don’t think. It doesn’t sound like it at least. But judging from the first track on Are You Serious? they might not have a pair of pants that don’t hug their nuts too much either.

The Ramones thing is immediately apparent on “Born on Saturday Night.” At points the song even seems to borrow some of its simple chord changes from the Ramones catalog. But since that song book might include four notes, it’s a moot point.

Of course the Ramones thing is going to be pretty pervasive in any write up of the band. There’s not too much else to say. The group trucks in simple rock stuff. Of course, some tempo changes make the band sound like a jittery Weezer during the middle portion of “Steve Don't Party No More.” All involved can probably just chalk that moment up to pop song structures. The remainder of the track, though, gets back to familiar territory.

What’s interesting about all of this is the fact that band carries around no pretense of its sound being too much more than an update. So why would people even want to hear Mean Jeans at this point?

I don’t really know.

If you get tired of hearing the save five good Ramones album’s, though, there’s a viable alternative here. Again since there’s such a back log of other groups doing the same thing, Mean Jeans might be thought of as nothing more than a latter day entry. Maybe so. But it’s when the band is working towards the Ramones appropriations that it comes off best.