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Mary Timony


Country of origin:

USA

Type of music generally:

alternative/indie folk, folk/rock

Status:

Most recent release, The Shapes We Make (as the Mary Timony Band, 2007)

See also:

Wikipedia's entry on Mary Timony

Mary Timony's MySpace page

Mary Timony has been in many bands, including Helium and Wild Flag (Wikipedia's entry for Wild Flag), and most recently Ex Hex

Comparisons:

Mary Timony is somewhere in the range of Kristin Hersh, Shannon Wright, Lois, Kat Terran

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Mary Timony used to be in the Boston band Helium (and prior to that Autoclave?) and has put out a couple of really good solo albums as well—a little darker and harsher than typical ecto stuff but I quite enjoy it... (gordodo@optonline.net)

In the same ballpark [as Happy's monsters and vampires and suicide and death songs], but sonically as well as lyrically. Some of her stuff sounds like the soundtrack to the kind of really weird indie film where mannequins tend to come to life, and music boxes can attack.
     I wouldn't call it harshy-noisy...and live I doubt it'd be too noisy if she's solo. I'm not a huge fan of harshy-noisy either, but I like Mary Timony. (meth@smoe.org)

Mary Timony's recording career goes back to 1991, when she played second guitar in a D.C. band called Autoclave. They didn't last long, but their single EP—still available from Dischord, I think—is one of the best records of its time, full of nervous, brittle, brilliant pop songs.
     By 1993 Mary Timony was in Boston, and had formed Helium. Their first EP, Pirate Prude, is a fine example of that seeming Boston specialty, pop songs slathered with lots of guitar distortion (see Swirlies and, later, Dirt Merchants). The opening track, "Baby Vampire Made Me," is still my favorite Mary Timony song.
     The first Helium full-length, The Dirt of Luck, was less successful at the same formula; I've never liked it much. It was preceded by a stronger single/EP, Superball (both 1995).
     The next Helium recordings came in 1997, when another good EP, No Guitars (not true), preceded the second full-length, The Magic City, which is almost a complete change of style: it's unmistakably prog-rock, sounding at times something like the minor 70s band Camel (and very like former Swirlies guitarist Seana Carmody's one-album project Syrup USA). A very likable record.
     Then a considerable gap; I think it was during this period that Timony participated in at least three other projects: Mind Science of the Mind, Green 4, and The Spells (the latter a duo with Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein). Don't quote me, because I don't own any of them.
     By 2000, Helium was finished, and Timony put out her first solo album, Mountains. To my ear, she had arrived at a place strikingly similar to where Kristin Hersh had arrived after she thought Throwing Muses were no more, and Shannon Wright after the demise of her little-known band Crowsdell: a few piano songs, more guitar songs, in a songwriting style of such intense inwardness it becomes almost scary. Hersh's 1994 Hips and Makers (which I just listened to for the first time in a while recently: I'd forgotten how great an album it is) is the best of this subgenre, and Shannon Wright's Maps of Tacit (also 2000) the second-best, but Mountains and last year's The Golden Dove are very good examples as well, and I think Timony's best recordings yet. (dgk@panix.com)

Comments about live performance:

I saw Helium live a few times, and Mary Timony opening for Sleater-Kinney about the time of Mountains, and she struck me as having as close to no stage presence as any performer I'd seen; but I saw her twice on her Golden Dove tours last year, and her stage manner has improved noticeably. I'm planning to go see her again. (dgk@panix.com)

Mary Timony at SXSW—one of the most notable live performances of 2007. (meth@smoe.org)

Recommended first album:

The Golden Dove

Recordings:


Mountains

Release info:

2000—Matador—OLE 363-1

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mary Timony

Guest artists:

Ash Bowie—percussion
John McEntire—vibraphone, synthesizer
Pete Fitzpatrick—euphonium

Comments:

album of the year. (John Drummond)

I just picked up the solo debut of Mary Timony (from Helium) and am in love with it (it is more ecto-ish than I would have expected...haunting vocals/great guitars/percussion/synthesizers mostly)... (gordodo@optonline.net)

mountains is quite piano/vocal based. not too girly, not too fragile, quite sparse and just lovely. needs more listenings, which it will definitely get. (sketches@earthlink.net)

I would say that mountains is very good, but not quite as compelling as Golden Dove. (Neile)


The Golden Dove

Release info:

2002—Matador—OLE 521-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mary Timony—vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards, synthesizer, Akai sampler instruments

Guest artists:

Jeff Goddard—bass
Christina Files—drums
Pete Fitzpatrick—euphonium
Miguel Urbiztondo—percussion
Mark Linkous—synthesizer, optigon
Al Weatherhead—guitar, pedal steel guitar, Akai sampler instruments
Amy Domingues—cello
The Sound of Music Vocal Choir—choir

Produced by:

Mary Timony, Al Weatherhead, Mark Linkous

Comments:

I'm a big fan of The Golden Dove...it reminds me a lot of something Susanne Lewis might sound like if she played it a little more straight. (Disclaimer: The only Susanne Lewis stuff I've heard is both Hail records, the stuff she did with Thinking Plague and the one she did with Biota...none of which can be called "straight" in my opinion.) meisenberg@earthlink.net

A brilliant, surreal album. It's really catchy alternapop. I had heard a preview copy at Zulu Records and it was so intriguing I made a mental note them to buy it when it came it, and did, and liked it a lot. (Neile)


Ex Hex

Release info:

2005—lookout —L314CD

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Mary Timony fans

Group members:

Mary Timony—guitar, vocals, keyboards

Guest artists:

Devin Ocampo—drums, bass

Produced by:

Brendan Canty

Comments:

This album is a little louder, rockier, and with slightly less distinctive tunes than Mountains or The Golden Dove. While it has many similar elements to its sound, it just hasn't dug its claws into me like those two have. (Neile)

Further info:

"Hapi Holidaze" appears on the 2006 compilation Kill Rock Stars Winter Holiday Album.

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Entry last updated 2015-10-03 20:04:43.
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