Mary Timony has been around for a long time. If one was tuned to indie rock in the early 1990s, they’d surely have heard of at least one of the two bands she contributed to (Autoclave and Helium). 24 years into her career, she has had the time and talent to put out great records consistently, whether as part of a band or as a solo artist.
Recently, she fronted the superband Wild Flag along with Sleater Kinney/Portlandia star, Carrie Brownstein. A flash in the pan, perhaps, as Ms. Timony has now formed a new band… a power pop, punk rock trio called Ex Hex (which was also the name of a 2005 solo record). Their debut record, Rips, does just that. The music on Rips is upbeat, fun, and has the attitude bands from early 1980s bands like The Buzzcocks or The Beat. It's no frills rock music… chugging instead of pirouetting, unpretentiously dishing up straightforward rock n’ roll without any garnish that might point to the fact that you're in the presence of one of underground rocks most talented guitar players.
You might say that going back to basics is a regression, as 2007 saw the release of the Mary Timony Band’s “The Shapes We Make”, a definitive high watermark for her, showcasing her growth as a songwriter and a simply awe-inspiring guitarist. Indeed, Rips seems almost like it should've been the very record by her very first band. It has a fresh exuberance one might attribute more to a 20 year-old musician, not a 44 year-old musician. But to me, and maybe I’m showing my age here, I think it’s an admirable step. Ex Hex is Timony showing she can wear any hat she wants as an artist.
Ex Hex is kinda what I wanted Wild Flag to be … but wasn't ... and that makes it even better. I guess that’s one good thing about Portlandia popularity… it distracted Brownstein away from Wild Flag, allowing Ex Hex to rise from it’s ashes. Pre-order and listen: Ex Hex - Rips