What Makes a Man Start Fires? marked a real step forward for the Minutemen, and while Double Nickels on the Dime was where the group would reach their peak, there were plenty of signs pointing to that album's diverse brilliance on this eight-song EP. While "Dreams Are Free, Motherfucker!" and "The Toe Jam" are goofy, noisy throwaways (hey, this was a EP sandwiched between albums), the rest of the songs found the band consolidating their strengths and growing even tighter and more confident. "I Felt Like a Gringo" and "Cut" merge funky rhythms with a punk rocker's sense of concision, "Self Referenced" and "The Product" reveal how far this band's writing had progressed since The Punch Line, and "Little Man With a Gun in His Hand" showed the Minutemen could reduce the tempo and the volume and still create stunning music. It's hard to think of a stronger rhythm section in an independent band in the 1980s than Mike Watt and George Hurley, and D. Boon was by any standards a superb guitarist, with smarts, style, and a keen sense of how to edit himself. Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat remains a superb record from a band just edging into greatness.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming