Never Heard of 'Em
Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.
Double Nickels on the Dime
I don't know which terrifies me more: when the cabal of music nerds who assign me this stuff hands me an album with only four tracks (endless drug trips) or one with 40 (usually lots of shouting). Double Nickels on the Dime has 43 tracks, every last one less than three minutes long. But then the cover is really sweet—just a nice guy laughing in an old car. I was medium nervous.
The Minutemen were three dudes from Southern California, which somehow you can hear. I don't know why that makes sense, but it just does. Is it sunniness? They do sound like they're playing somewhere sunny, even if they're in a basement.
And they're total goofballs, with songs called "#1 Hit Song" (sample lyric: "Twinkle, twinkle, blah blah blah, E! T! C!") and "Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing" ("Organizing the Boy Scouts for murder is wrong!"). Really, the whole track list is poetry; it just keeps going: "Maybe Partying Will Help," "The World According to Nouns." You can also tell they're smart. They're guys you want to hang out with, and listening to the album feels like hanging out with them, because it's so straightforward and funny and somehow it seems like they're just right there on the other side of the speaker.
I don't always like punk; sometimes it just sounds like people who want to complain and wear a certain kind of outfit. Nap time for me. But this column has made me listen to some stuff that the internet calls punk that is energetic, interesting, surprising. (It's always funny—and familiar—to realize, "Aha, I'm the dweeb for making uncurious music judgments.")
It's still crappy out, so this album is a little incongruous. That could go two ways—it's possible it could bum you out, this jamming- of-the-sun-people. Or it could make you wake up from your winter stupor, shake your head a bit, and shout along with all the nouns of the world. This is a soundtrack for shenanigans and graffiti and skateboarding, for painting your nails 10 different colors and dyeing your hair with Kool-Aid.
So unless you only want to listen to sad-times music to match your sad-times heart, go find Double Nickels in your friend's beat-up cassette collection (I mean, your neighborhood independent record store) and use its energy to fuel a whole new kind of winter adventure. Then, when summer comes around, you'll have lots of practice living in the sunlight and you won't feel like such a lizard-person trying to catch up.
Also, RIP, D. Boon. Finding out one of them died young is always the saddest part of learning about a band for the first time way too late.
I give this a "don't just stand there, go verb some nouns" out of 10.