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TikTok Is Coming for Our R&B Elders

Plus Tolliver on 'James Corden,' black metal on Bandcamp, and NFTs are still dumb in this week's local music news.

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Mint Condition Belongs to the TikTokkers Now

As Dickens famously said of TikTok: It is the best of apps, it is the worst of apps. On one hand its algorithm is stupid-scary even by algorithm standards and reinforces all sorts of gross beauty standards. On the other hand, people who weren’t even born when “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” was a top ten hit in 1992 are recycling the Mint Condition jam as an excuse to lip synch with melodramatic frenzy. (So… that’s a net positive?) Hat tip to the Strib’s resident TikTok addict Jon Bream for sharing the news of this latest TikTok challenge, which features a sped-up version of the St. Paul R&B act’s signature ballad, with the rest of us olds. As lead singer Stokley Williams told Bream,  “Sped-up vocals sounds like chipmunks,” and truer words have never been spoken. Here’s a video comp to give you a taste of what you may have been missing out on. 

Tolliver Is Someone Who Used to Live Here  

Is leaving Minneapolis the best way for musicians to get their big break? Shh, don’t even suggest that. However, Jonathan Tolliver, who lived here for a spell (from 2010 to 2014, as I discovered using journalism, i.e. checking his LinkedIn page) is making a name for himself by using just one of his names. Tolliver, now an L.A. resident, was on James Corden Tuesday night performing material from his late 2021 album Daddyland. Back in his Minneapolis days, Tolliver was the lead singer for Black Diet, which played First Ave’s 2012 Best New Bands showcase. Apologies for the 10 seconds or so of introductory Corden; let me compensate with this fun story about Pierce Brosnan pushing the late-night dink out of the way at a U2 concert and not apologizing.

*Bad Standup Comic Voice* So Have You Guys Heard About These New NFTs?” 

NFTs, much like capitalism in general, seem pretty scammy to begin with, so it’s no surprise that the weaseliest bottom-feeders are being drawn into their orbit and trying suck the rest of us in, too. This week, several Minneapolis bands were among the many, many, MANY caught up in the web of commercial appropriation from some site called HitPiece, which was peddling NFTs of album art until enough people called them out. The pilfering dweeb behind the site began his non-apology (not gonna link) with “clearly we have struck a nerve…” Nah, fuck this. Gotta be honest, if I were a musician fond of food and shelter I’d be pretty suspicious of all this new technology. Shoulda stopped with DX-7s and 808s and CDs in the ’80s.

Red Nebula Blasts Fascism with Black Metal Comp 

Here on the ol’ local music beat it’s easy to get stuck in your ways and just listen to what’s convenient, buzzy, or recommended. I’ve been guilty. But I do have a few little exercises to keep my ears limber, and one is to search “Minneapolis,” “St. Paul,” or “Minnesota” on Bandcamp and see what happens. Just this morning, that search alerted me to a formerly cassette-only compilation that local metal label Red Nebula put up on sale for Bandcamp today. Proceeds from Red & Black Flag Convocation, a compilation of 28 brutal and (politically) radical bands, go to the Mexican indigenous support group Alianza Migrante and the Water Protector Legal Defense fund.