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Ex Hex, Moaning, Proud Parents

  • High Noon Saloon 701 East Washington Avenue Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

Mary Timony's power-pop trio expands its horizons on a new album. Info/tix

Photo by Michael Lavine.

Photo by Michael Lavine.

Multi-instrumentalist and singer Mary Timony has made a lot of ambitious, elliptical music in projects like Helium and Autoclave, but took a surprisingly straightforward turn in 2013 with the founding of the D.C.-based trio Ex Hex. Along with bandmates Betsy Wright (bass, vocals, guitar) and Laura Harris (drums), Timony dials in on unapologetically giddy power-pop, not giving up the complexity of her earlier work so much as reconciling it with a different set of constraints. The band's second album, this year's It's Real, has more of a rugged edge than 2014's debut Rips. On "Rainbow Shiner," Wright delivers a lead vocal that perfectly matches the swaggering command she brings to the band's live sets, over riffs tinged with the swinging menace of Iron Maiden. The added heaviness of It's Real somehow just makes things more exuberant: Grimy guitar tones and Harris' rumbling drum sound create a wonderful contrast with the vocal hooks of "Another Dimension" and give the band a lot of range to explore on the relatively slow-building "Want It To Be True." At its core, It's Real builds on the same fundamentals of punchy songwriting and ecstatic guitar solos that served Ex Hex so well on Rips, but still manages to find room for growth. To explore more of Timony's work, make sure to check out our latest podcast short. —Scott Gordon