Now it's Sims' turn

The Doomtree crew member's latest, "Bad Time Zoo," might be a hit with (or at) NPR listeners.

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Sims debuted songs from "Bad Time Zoo" at the Doomtree Blowout VI concert at First Avenue in December. Photo by Leslie Plesser.

Photo: Leslie_plesser, Star Tribune

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Of all the songs from Sims' second album that might get played on the Current and other hip-hop-savvy public radio stations, "One Dimensional Man" either has the best or the worst chance of becoming a hit.

On the plus side, it's smart, ideological and musically scorching. On the other hand, it might raise a little ire among its prospective audience with lyrics such as these:

"Holier-than-thou type thing / But you did your part / You gave your hundred bucks to NPR / You joined the co-op now / Bought the hybrid car / Switched to Peace Coffee / Went to three rallies / Then wiped your hands with sanitized solution / Good deeds tallied / Consumer movement seeking absolution."

Talking between rehearsals for his release party Saturday at the Fine Line, the Doomtree crew's cheekily self-described "angry white male rapper" was quick to deny he has joined Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin in their efforts to ridicule liberal elitists everywhere.

"Like a lot of my songs, it's as much about me as it is anyone else," said Hopkins native Andrew Sims, 28. "It's about the 'easy outs' we find as liberals, the idea that the best way we can voice our dissent is through our purchases. I'm saying, 'It's time to replace your smugness with action.'"

The latest in Doomtree's deluge of quarterly full-length releases, "Bad Time Zoo" is less overtly political and more musically playful than Sims' 2005 debut, "Lights Out Paris," However, it still boasts some pretty heady themes.

Foremost among them is the idea -- introduced in the opening track, "Future Shock," and touched on in "One Dimensional Man" -- that the Internet and all our handheld gadgetry have overloaded our senses and desensitized us to what's really going on in our world, or even with the person standing next to us. Once again sounding pot-kettle-black, these songs come from someone who admits to "waking up and automatically touching some kind of a screen every day."

"The world is so interconnected now, and yet it's getting harder and harder for people to connect through real human emotions," he said.

Sims was a few years younger than his Doomtree mates when they started making music together after high school, so he was intimidated at first. P.O.S. pushed him the most, enough for "Lights Out Paris" to become one of the first Doomtree full-lengths. The six-year wait for the follow-up was largely a matter of waiting his turn, but he said it's worth the advantages of being one of seven in the crew.

"We make each other better in every way," he said, pointing to the fact that he had time to work up 35 new tracks to choose from (14 made the cut). With every new track, he said, "I want it to be a song that will impress the rest of Doomtree above everyone else. If they don't feel it, then I know it's probably not working."

His main ally in the case of "Bad Time Zoo" was Lazerbeak, the beatmaker and producer behind all the tracks. Sims will have an all-star team of beatmakers at Saturday's release party, along with guest singers including Chris Koza and Aby Wolf, plus the usual array of Doomtree rappers.

"I do what I can to support them, and then when my time comes they all support me," he said. "That's how it works -- and it works really well."

Everyday Dre

"Folks who think that Dr. Dre's been out of the game for the last 10 years haven't been reading their liner notes."

So said Sean McPherson, talking the morning after Dre's much-ballyhooed "return" on the Grammys telecast. McPherson's band Heiruspecs makes a more official return Saturday to the Triple Rock for the ninth annual Dre Day celebration. More so than its two previous stints at the popular event, this one will include many of the West Coast guru's more recent material, everything from "In da Club" and Eminem cuts to Mary J. Blige's "Family Affair." That's in addition to segments on Dre's other eras, including a "synthed-out" set led by keyboardist DeVon Gray.

Among the guests are the Lioness, aka roaring Minneapolis rapper Shaiwna Adams, 22, who also hosts a party for her first mixtape Friday at the 400 Bar.

Having women involved brings up some of the material Heiruspecs won't be doing: "I'm not against sexy songs, just sexist songs," McPherson said, who warned that the band will "envision those songs in a different light and avoid some of the most objectionable material." Dre Day tickets can be bought at Fifth Element or Ticketfly.com (9 p.m., $12).

Random mix

Semi-locals Off With Their Heads landed the opening slot on probably the biggest punk tour of the winter/spring: Dropkick Murphys with Against Me!, which arrives March 3 at First Ave. OWTH is also currently out with Less Than Jake. ... Not seen since the holidays, the New Standards will light up again Saturday night for the Lantern Festival Gala at Shelter Studios (2112 NE. Broadway, Mpls.), a benefit for Minneapolis' Chinese immersion school. Details at www.yinghuaacademy.org/gala. ... Soulful piano man Nicholas Mrozinski has gone electronic. At the least, the Feelin' Band leader made a five-song EP with electronic producer Dylan Mau that works surprisingly well, sounding like a modernized urban hippie soul jam. Titled "In Formation," it'll be celebrated Friday at spotArt Gallery (1828 NE. Marshall St., Mpls. $10.)

Romantica frontman Ben Kyle's duets album with Texas playgirl Carrie Rodriguez, "We Still Love Our Country," is faring well in alt-country circles and beyond. It landed at No. 10 on the Americana radio chart and earned raves from the Huffington Post and Country Weekly, while the Kyle-written track "Your Lonely Heart" was spotlighted as the daily "top tune" by influential Los Angeles public station KCRW. Romantica returns March 5 to the Turf Club.

Toki Wright is featured alongside Talib Kweli and I Self Devine on a new online single, "Trakhouse." That should be a nice little bump for Wright as he hits the road with Living Legends rapper Scarub in April. Before that, though, he headlines the Varsity Theater Feb. 25. ... The 4onthefloor, Sextons and Red Label will perform at Sunday's One Rock Rally, a 2 p.m. trainer bike ride benefiting Lance Armstrong's Livestrong fund at the new Fulton Brewery (414 6th Av. N., Mpls. Details at Fultonbeer.com). Rock music + craft beer + indoor bicycling = only in Minnesota.

Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisRstrib

  • related content

  • Audio: "One Dimensional Man" by Sims

    Wednesday February 16, 2011

    "One Dimensional Man" by Sims, from the CD Bad Time Zoo

  • Audio: "Burn It Down" by Sims

    Wednesday February 16, 2011

    "Burn It Down," by Sims, from the CD Bad Time Zoo

  • SIMS CD PARTY

    With: P.O.S., Dessa, Lazerbeak, more.

    When: 9 p.m. Sat.

    Where: Fine Line, 318 1st Av. N., Mpls.

    Tickets: $10. Ticketmaster.com or 1-800-982-2787.

    HEAR

    samples from "Bad Time Zoo" at startribune.com/music

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