Archive for Mary Timony

Mary Timony As The Rock Star Next Door

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 13, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Even as fans of Helium, The Mary Timony Band, and Wild Flag yearn for her next record, it should be noted that there are a lot of Washington, D.C. kids who know Mary Timony for a different, related reason: she is the coolest, and most dedicated, guitar teacher in town.  Yesterday, The Washington Post Magazine ran a great profile of one of our fair city’s cultural gems.  Nice piece, richly deserved, and we can’t wait to see the output from Mary’s next project.

You Can Finally Get Your Deathfix, And Man, They Take It All The Way

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on February 26, 2013 by johnbuckley100

We had February 19th circled on our calendar ever since Spin glommed “Transmission,” a magnificent early cut from the first Deathfix album, and streamed it on their site.  But even though we hit refresh on our iTunes about a dozen times last Tuesday, it only was released today.  Fortunately, those nice people at NPR let us stream the whole album all week, so we haven’t exactly been waitin’ for our man.  We may have set new records for streaming a single album, but we sure got our Deathfix, and as of today we finally have a renewable supply, and can take it to the limit.

And that’s the worry, for now that we have our own copy of Deathfix coursing through our headphones, we find the whole album is such a crystalline mound of glittering goodness, we could listen to it over and over until we emerge from the room —  if we were to emerge — looking like an R. Crumb character. It’s that good.

Much has been made of the opener, “Better Than Bad” sounding like a Big Star track.  Right era, but maybe the wrong band.  It seems built less on proto-power pop than on George Harrison’s “What Is Life.”  But placing the context from which Deathfix emerges is important, given how much the band confounds expectations.  With musicians who have roots in Fugazi, Bob Mould’s solo career, and D.C. secrets like The Mary Timony Band, who would have imagined there is a late ’60s/early ’70s prog sophistication at work here, that in a song like “Transmission” we can imagine Joe Boyd producing a Traffic session.  The musicians are virtuosi, even when you realize that singer/guitarist Brendan Canty isn’t playing the drums, which he did so magnificently for Fugazi, but instead has embarked on the same path as Chris Mars and Grant Hart and, yeah, Dave Grohl before him, going from behind the drum kit to the front of the stage.

It all works, as an incredibly catchy set of updated 10cc songs, as a staggeringly sophisticated first album made by adults who know their way around the studio, but haven’t lost a scintilla of wonder about just what can be accomplished with guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards.  This may seem far afield, but the only contemporary band that to us seems to be fishing with the same tackle is White Denim, and by that we mean a band that completely understands how uncool it is to play music with such a knowing understanding of pre-punk rock sophistication, and then they just go ahead’n’blow everyone away with the power of their songs, their incredible musicianship.  Resistance is futile.

Despite the dance club vibe of “Dali’s House,” this is a cerebral album, clever and beautiful (at times) without being emotional.  It sounds like it was made by a band as well-synced as The Soundtrack of Our Lives, but of course, they’ve only been playing together for a matter of months.  Our humble belief is that Deathfix could be the biggest band ever to emerge from D.C. — we mean commercially viable and huge — and wouldn’t that be ironic, given Brendan’s roots in Fugazi?  Richly deserved though, right, to have a nice guy finish first?  Whether or not we’re right — we’re usually not, when it comes to predicting who’s going to be huge — Deathfix has produced a first album that we pray is just the kickoff to many more.  You can start your 2013 Top 10 list scorecard now.  Maybe you can even put down your pen.

On Eve Of SXSW, World Conquest, Wild Flag Waves O’er DC

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on March 11, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Supergroups are like some second marriages, in which adults, no longer young and quite so foolish, find their proper partners.  So it seems to be with Wild Flag, in which Mary Timony of Helium, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney, and Rebecca Cole of The Minders bounce around like ping pong balls about to be drawn in a winning lottery.  For while Helium and Sleater-Kinney had wide followings, our first exposure to Wild Flag would indicate they could be huge.

Anyone who’s listened to the antecedent bands would have recognized not just traces, but huge genetic thumb prints all over Wild Flag’s sound last night at DC’s Black Cat.  In both Helium and her own Mary Timony Band, Timony’s capable of garage-rocking guitar pop, off-kilter and running the gamut between sweet and snarling.  Brownstein and Weiss were two-thirds of one of the smartest bands of the ’90s, and Weiss’s propulsive drumming behind Brownstein’s energetic guitar textures updated the melodic punk rock of Sleater-Kinney in a different context.

For a band that has played less than a dozen gigs, with one songwriter (Timony) based in Washington, the other in Portlandia (Brownstein, the star, with Fred Armisen, of Portlandia), songs gelled nicely.  This is a band that has the wildness of rock’n’roll youth and the maturity of a graduate student before it even goes into the studio to record its first album.  It’s hard to describe songs you’ve never heard before, and for which you don’t even know the titles, but let’s just say there aren’t many bands that can make you think of Lou Reed and Jimi Hendrix, punk rock and the Haight-Ashbury all within the span of two or three songs.

It was something of a homecoming and farewell for Mary Timony, who in DC is more like Mary From The Block than a Riot Grrrl, and who has had an influence on an entire generation of young rockers.  It was great to see her here with the band she’s been working with cross-country.  We have more than an inkling that Wild Flag is going to take SXSW by storm, and that their freak flag is going to be raised above the world, in a conquest as sure as their performance last night before a sold out crowd in Washington.

Women On The Verge: Wild Flag Plays DC

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on March 11, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Great show at the Black Cat.  More tomorrow.  Mary Timony (l) and Carrie Brownstein (r). Leica D-Lux 4.

Wye Oak Blossoms With “Civilian”

Posted in Music with tags , , , on March 9, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Baltimore’s Wye Oak is a band so ambitious that it’s produced its (first) masterpiece while there are still no more than five rings around its arboreal trunk.  Civilian builds on 2009’s The Knot in unexpected ways, and reveals that The Decemberists choosing of Wye Oak as the opening act on its winter tour was recognition of a sapling now grown into a mighty tree.

We’ve never been big fans of two-person bands, from the Method Actors to the White Stripes, because live the sound of drums and guitar without the flaps tied down by the bass imperfectly protects the music from the buffeting of sonic wind.  But Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack aren’t just ambitious, they’re visionaries too, and rather than compromise with a third musician, they’ve come to the Centaur’s solution of having Stack play both drums and bass (keyboard.)  Um, at the same time.  At the Beacon Theater in January, when they opened for The Decemberists, we marveled at how well it worked, Stack holding down, if not a heavy bottom, at least a sufficiency of rhythm, one arm bashing the drum kit, the other stretched to the keyboard.  We’re guessing he’s also good at simultaneous translations of English to Mandarin, can program in C++, and never was bored as a child, since he could play catch without needing another kid to come over.

Wasner can also do circus tricks.  She can strum like Peter Buck and head into Distortionland like Thurston Moore.  On perhaps Civilian‘s most brilliant song, “The Alter,” Wasner embellishes upon Air’s “Surfing On A Rocket,” which itself was a take on Eno’s “St. Elmo’s Fire,with a sudden efflorescence into Frippertronics.  Wow.  We dare you to listen to “The Alter” and not go download this whole amazing album.  Wasner’s voice starts in Lida Husick alto depths, and can maybe range a little too far into Cranberries territory, but the effect of her singing, the mastery of  her guitar textures, and Andy Stack’s utility infielding should, with Civilian, introduce the proverbial wider audience to the charms of The Free State’s greatest gift to music since David Byrne.

Unfortunately their show Friday night at the Black Cat is sold out.  (Although for those of us with day jobs going to see Mary Timony play in Wild Flag Thursday night, maybe that’s a blessing.)  This isn’t the last chance we’ll have to see Wye Oak, though next time it’s likely them headlining at The Beacon.  Amazing.

%d bloggers like this: