Thursday, March 27, 2014

Helium's Unstoppable Mary Timony Has a New Band and a New Video (Co-Starring Ian Svenonius)

Posted by on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 2:30 PM

  • Photo by Jonah Takagi / Merge Records
There was much mourning when Sleater-Kinney went on hiatus in 2006 and much rejoicing when Wild Flag rose from the ashes in 2010. The band featured Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss from S-K, Rebecca Cole from the Minders, and Mary Timony from Helium. Then, when Wild Flag announced their retirement earlier this year, the reaction was muted at best. I'm not sure why, but I think it's partly because the band, as good as they were, didn't quite live up to the lofty expectations that had been set up for them.

Then again, it isn't unprecedented for a supergroup—even one on an independent label—to break up after only one record. Blind Faith called it quits in 1969; Wild Flag followed suit in 2014, which means they outlasted the British group by three years, and that's probably the last time I'll mention those two outfits in the same post—although they did both release self-titled debut-swan songs (the Australian supergroup New Race, which featured Stooges' guitarist Ron Asheton, smartly titled their sole full-length, a collection of live recordings, First and Last).

  • Cole, Brownstein, Timony, and Weiss / Merge Records

Since the release of 2011's Wild Flag, Brownstein has continued to pursue her comic muse on Portlandia, Weiss has continued to collaborate with her ex-husband Sam Coomes in Quasi, and Mary Timony, who fronted Washington D.C.'s Boston's Helium throughout the 1990s, formed Ex Hex with bass player Betsy Wright and drummer Laura Harris. Their new single, "Hot and Cold," has an infectious glam kick—I swear she's channeling Sweet's Brian Connolly when the song kicks into overdrive.

The accompanying Lara Gallagher-directed video is also a lot of fun. Those familiar with D.C.'s fertile punk scene—Minor Threat, Bad Brains, etc.—are sure to recognize musician and journalist Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, Chain and the Gang) who plays Timony's awkward date, but don't say I didn't warn you about the '60s-style finger foods. Surely Merge's publicist was joking when he predicted, in the label's one-sheet, that they "will definitely make you hungry!"

Ex Hex's "Hot and Cold" single is out now on Merge (orig release date: Mar 13).


Comments (7) RSS

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The world can always use another rewrite of "Sweet Jane."
Posted by maddogm13 on March 27, 2014 at 3:42 PM · Report this
I Heart Flan! 2
Pretty sure Helium was based out of Boston, not Washington DC..
Posted by I Heart Flan! on March 27, 2014 at 5:41 PM · Report this
Kathy Fennessy 3
@2 This is technically correct. Timony grew up in the Washington D.C. area and formed Autoclave while living there. Helium was based in Boston, though she returned to D.C. after they split.
Posted by Kathy Fennessy on March 27, 2014 at 7:07 PM · Report this
I Heart Flan! 4
@3: That makes sense. I was living in Boston and area during the Helium years - got to see them tons (Autoclave as well!)
Posted by I Heart Flan! on March 27, 2014 at 7:10 PM · Report this
Kathy Fennessy 5
@4 I'm jealous. Guess I'm just more familiar with the music scene in DC than Boston.
Posted by Kathy Fennessy on March 27, 2014 at 7:56 PM · Report this
I Heart Flan! 6
@4: Dont be jealous! D.C is a great scene!

On another note: Helium was my favorite band during those years - thanks so much for the update on what Timony is up to. Such an underrated music mind...
Posted by I Heart Flan! on March 27, 2014 at 8:08 PM · Report this
Kathy Fennessy 7
My pleasure! I've also corrected this post.
Posted by Kathy Fennessy on March 28, 2014 at 5:59 AM · Report this

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