The folks in Black Prairie have certainly been keeping busy. Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller announced on Twitter today that he is indeed here in town recording with the Portland bluegrass-and-much-more ensemble, going on to modestly say of the recordings, "It is so good so far." (For a very, very quick taste, check out Black Prairie member Chris Funk's Instagram post from yesterday.)

But it's not as though the band has otherwise been sitting around twiddling their thumbs. Fortune, Black Prairie's third, or fourth, or possibly fifth album* is in the can, due out on April 22 on Sugar Hill Records. All reports indicate that it is a departure for the band, who have not merely grown from their instrumental roots to incorporate Annalisa Tornfelt's vocals, but also added a full-time drummer in John Moen (bringing Black Prairie's Decemberist ratio up to a full four-fifths). The album's advance track "Let It Out" is up on Paste for listening, and it's a great, energetic rocker.

On top of that, members of Black Prairie (Funk, Moen, bassist Nate Query, and keyboardist Jenny Conlee) have been clocking in at their day job, recording new songs with Colin Meloy for an upcoming Decemberists record. Meloy has been performing two of the new songs on his recent solo tour (Seattle Weekly reports, "both were love songs, each focusing on the memory of a past passion.")

So we've got lots to wait for. In the meantime, Black Prairie opens for Amos Lee on his three upcoming Pacific Northwest dates, including the Portland show on Sunday, February 16 at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. And you can hear a further taste of Fortune below, which may come as a shock to those who missed Black Prairie's rocking, at times metallic set at Laurelthirst Public House last October under the alter ego White Tundra, in which they not only covered Sabbath, but their red-eyed gigantic white yeti mascot made its first public appearance.

*Depending how you count. In addition to 2010's Feast of the Hunter's Moon debut and 2012's follow-up A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the Heart, they've also recorded the soundtrack to the play A Storm in the Barn and an aural accompaniment to Jon Mooallem's book Wild Ones.