It’s rare for a musician to be in one great band, but Washington DC guitarist Mary Timony has managed to be in four, the latest of which, Ex Hex, could quite possibly be her best yet.
Timony began her career in Dischord Records all-girl band Autoclave, who didn’t really fit into any musical category but showcased Mary’s fine guitar playing and unique, almost monotone singing style. The band broke up in 1991 shortly after releasing two EP’s.
Her next band, Helium, really could have been contenders. The band released three EP’s and two albums, the best of which, 1997’s The Magic City, is a masterful blend of both indie-rock and progressive rock, two styles which usually don’t work together but Helium made it happen. They sadly broke up in 1998, their promise unfulfilled.
After releasing some solo albums and becoming a guitar teacher, in 2010 Timony joined ex-Sleater Kinney duo Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss to form supergroup Wild Flag, whose only album in 2011 was a riotous celebration of rock and roll. After some great live shows, the band broke up in 2013.
Luckily, their exuberant rock and roll greatly influenced Mary’s new — and in my opinion best — band, the power trio Ex Hex.
Teaming up with bassist Betsy Wright and drummer Laura Harris, Ex Hex are all about — to quote another great three piece — rock and roll fun, and this attitude goes through the entirety of their debut album Rips. The opening track, ‘Don’t Wanna Lose’ starts with a burst of feedback and rapidly develops into a galloping beat with a great chorus. Interestingly, the album is full of great sing a long choruses and lyrics which are much more direct than the previous that Mary has written.
The album’s singles, ‘Hot and Cold’ and ‘Waterfall’ are respectively a stomper reminiscent of ‘Sweet Jane’ by the Velvet Underground and a two minute punk anthem directed at a useless ex-boyfriend.
Betsy Wright contributes a couple of 80’s tinged songs, “Radio On” and “How You Got That Girl,” but the real star of the show is Timony, whose guitar playing on the album is amongst the best she’s ever done.
With a host of rave reviews and a tour of Europe upcoming next year (which the author is, luckily, attending) the future seems very bright for Ex Hex and Mary Timony.