Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill is considered by many to be something of a cultural artefact or even a joke, but there’s no denying that it was a huge-selling record. So it’s a source of some irritation to me that there was a much better album released within a month of it that very few people have heard of: Ani DiFranco’s Not a Pretty Girl.
I make the comparison between the two records not simply because both were recorded by forthright North American women, but because they have a similar sound and tone. But I think DiFranco’s songs have much more depth than Alanis’s straightforward tunes. Basically, if Jagged Little Pill is music for Starbucks then this album is music for that cool coffee independent coffee shop that has a name like “Foam.”
Being a stereotypical music snob, I don’t buy music that I think I will enjoy; I buy stuff that I think has the most indie cred. The Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime, which often gets listed alongside The Smiths’ first album, as a classic of 80s indie rock, sounded like it fitted the bill. So, I thought I’d buy it and share my thoughts on it with you, dear reader. There’s only one problem: I’ve never been able to listen to it all the way through. It’s not that the music’s bad, it’s just that there’s too much of it. The album clocks in at over 73 minutes, which is long even for one that was originally a double-LP. I’m not against long albums, but the major problem here is that it’s 43 really short songs!
The Minutemen’s music is basically somewhere between indie rock, punk, jazz and beat poetry. It’s gimmicky, and not a gimmick that I think is clever enough to sustain a double album. Around song 12, I find myself drifting off, and I’m only roused from my aural slumber at track 19, “Corona”, as that was used as the theme tune to Jackass. After that, I mentally tune out again, before I finally turn it off completely.