Jake’s Jams: Double Nickels on the Dime

Every other Thursday check out Jake’s Jams to see an album from any era, genre, or artist recommended by Jake Standerfer


The album Double Nickels on the Dime by the San Pedro post-punk trio Minutemen is certainly not what you’d call a coherent record. It is not a linear listen, nor a carefully composed exploration into a single subject. Instead, Double Nickels on the Dime comes across as a mad scattered dash, or even a prolonged car crash. It’s a collective, stream-of-consciousness clash of separate clattering components. It’s an oil-stained, style savvy street race from the belly of self-taught discipline.

The lack of overall unity through the album can be understood by looking at the overall track composition chose by Minutemen. The record consists of 40 songs, and was originally released as a double album. Each single side of the two discs was assigned to a member of the band, who lead the production of the ten songs on the particular side, and the second side of the second disc held all of the discarded songs made collectively by the trio.

This hierarchy of track composition is pretty much the last level of organization found on the album. Each track on its own diverges and proliferates into a different thematic or musical plane. From hardcore grinding to bouncing, sarcastic funk, genres too flutter without consistency. Familiar riffs strike with potency, such as in “Jesus and Tequila,” while abstract, acoustic ramblings dissolve into the listener’s ear canal on other tracks such as “Do You Want New Wave Or Do You Want The Truth?”

Punctual tracks like “Viet Nam” break down into tangents of varying intensity while other songs strum through light clouds of dramatized breeze, like in “Cohesion.” The plurality from track to track overall graces the listener with moments of calm, and moments of madness.

Punk is centered around punctuality. And Minutemen achieve punctual sound through their short track length and style of playing. However, each track diverges from one another with plurality, combating the acute structure of individual songs. This turns punk on its head, almost with a sense of self-appreciative sarcasm. Especially for such an early release, Double Nickels on the Dime seriously pushes the limits of not only punk, but overall rock structure.