Dessa is hard at work finishing her new record. Mike Mictlan has been battling health issues. Cecil Otter pursued scoring and production work.
Those circumstances left the other four members of the Twin Cities hip-hop collective Doomtree to their own devices this year. Predictably, they didn’t sit around idly.
Producers/beatmakers Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger started trading tracks between New York and Minneapolis. Around tour dates for their respective solo albums, “More Than Ever” and “Chill, Dummy,” rappers Sims and P.O.S. took hold of those beats and started trading verses over them.
The end result is Shredders, a new group of old friends, who just dropped a full-length album two weeks ago and are prepping for only their third live performance Wednesday at the Palace Theatre, part of the entire Doomtree crew’s first hometown show in a year and a half.
“Shredders was born out of the four of us just wanting to make a quick, easy record while we had a window,” explained Lazerbeak (Aaron Mader). He unabashedly called the new album “Dangerous Jumps,” one that was “done mostly on the fly.”
“The Doomtree records tend to be really dense and epic, with every detail carefully mulled over. And this is just more of a run-and-gun sort of thing that started with Paper Tiger and I making some bangers.”
Sims (Andrew Sims) described the record with similar reverence for its irreverence: “Basically, Stef and I are just trying to out-rap each other for most of the record,” he said of his cohort P.O.S. (Stefon Alexander).
While that all may sound a tad dismissive, it’s actually refreshing to hear the two rappers having so much fun — especially after their rather heady and dramatic solo records and the kidney issues that sidelined P.O.S. for a couple of years, not to mention the tumult of the world around us.
But there’s still plenty of poignant lines and bold musical experiments in the new tunes, from the bleary-eyed, EDM-flavored “Xanthrax” to the regretful anthem “Fly as I Dare.”
“A lot of the lyrics are like emotional snapshots,” Sims offered. “And some of it is just good ol’ rapper boasting.”
Lazerbeak didn’t sound all that braggadocious when he talked about the group’s two prior live gigs, a debut in front of 4,000 fans at the Prof Outdoors mini-fest and an unannounced gig at Bauhaus Brew Labs the day “Dangerous Jumps” came out.
“I was nervous as hell,” said Lazerbeak, harking back to his days as a teen rocker in the popular early-’00s punk band the Plastic Constellations. “It felt like being a kid in my first band again, in a good way.”
The Shredders LP follows an intentionally planned extended hiatus by the whole Doomtree crew after it hit the pavement hard behind the 2015 album “All Hands.” During the interim, Mictlan began suffering severe stomach pain and wound up in an intensive care unit with undiagnosed diabetes.
“This crew has had its share of medical scares,” marveled Lazerbeak, who reports that Mictlan “is feeling better” and “is extremely grateful for the support” that fans and friends showed in August via a GoFundMe campaign to offset medical costs. Mictlan does pop up as a “guest” on two of the Shredders tracks.
As for Dessa, she followed last year’s unforgettable performances with the Minnesota Orchestra by working with “Hamilton” producer Lin-Manuel Miranda, writing a book of essays and recording with producer/arranger Andy Thompson (Jeremy Messersmith, Dan Wilson), Lazerbeak and others for what sounds like quite an ambitious album due mid-2018. A preview track, “Good Grief,” is now in steady rotation at 89.3 the Current.
There are still no plans to make another all-crew Doomtree album anytime soon. In fact, as of this writing, the members haven’t all been in a room together for many months. In Sims’ mind, that makes Wednesday’s show all the more interesting.
“It was always our intention to have Doomtree shows not be a full-time thing, just something we did on special occasions,” he said, noting the unusually long lull between gigs this time around. “This one definitely feels special.”
After collaborating with the likes of Aby Wolf and Haley Bonar in years past, Prairie Fire Lady Choir has paired up with Chris Koza for an enterprising season-finale concert Saturday dubbed “Anthems and Monuments,” featuring new songs the Rogue Valley leader wrote with choral arrangements and strings, plus a batch of fun rearrangements of Devo, Sleater-Kinney and Lucius tunes that the 50-member PFLC has newly worked up. It’s happening at St. Paul’s newly renovated North Garden Theater, 929 7th St. W. (7 p.m., $12, EventBrite.com.) …
Brian Drake’s jangly Americana band the April Fools will tout their second album, “Colorwheel,” at Hook & Ladder on Saturday with openers the Magnolias and Rich Mattson & the Northstars (9 p.m., $9-$12). … There are a lot of fun options for Thanksgiving Eve shows on Wednesday besides the annual (and still blissful) Ike Reilly marathon at First Ave, including a “Feast of Lynne” gig by E.L.O. tribute band E. L.nO at Lee’s Liquor Lounge (9 p.m., $13-$15) and the Mofos/Hypstrz-leading Batson brothers’ ’50s-flavored band King Kustom & the Cruisers at Minneapolis’ Schooner Tavern (7:30 p.m., free). …
The honky-tonk masters of Trailer Trash have their usual run of Trashy Little X-mas concerts set for next month with a Dec. 1 kickoff at Mankato’s Kato Ballroom, a Dec. 3 family matinee and Dec. 9 adult show at the Minneapolis Eagles Club #34, a Dec. 8 run to Northfield’s Grand Event Center and finale at the Turf Club on Dec. 22-23. Ticket info at TrailerTrashMusic.com. … Both Run Westy Run and Soul Asylum made a habit of playing First Ave gigs around the holidays back in the late-’80s and early-’90s, and that tradition will continue this year. The Westies have booked a show on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, in the Entry, while Dave Pirner and his crew will pair up Dec. 29 with Har Mar Superstar in the main room. Har Mar’s Turf Club show the day after Thanksgiving is already sold out. …
The Triple Rock’s closing party Tuesday with Dillinger Four sold out in less time than it takes to read Paddy Costello’s chest tattoo, but tickets are still available to the club’s pair of Warped Tour-flavored tour gigs Friday with Within the Ruins and Sunday with Silverstein. There might be a surprise or two there next week, too.