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Power Duo

Mary Timony lets her rock 'n' roll hair down.

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By comparison, "Ex Hex" sounds looser, filled with garage-rock stompers and intricately picked guitar arpeggios that bring her expressive guitar-playing front and center.

"Brendan [Canty from Fugazi] did such a great job recording it," she says. "We ran the guitar back through an amp to get a heavier bass sound, and it was really nice to finally be able to hear the guitar."

The arpeggio patterns come naturally to Timony, a gifted musician who studied both classical and jazz music while growing up in D.C. as a viola student at the city's Duke Ellington School of the Arts. There she developed technical skills and learned "how to talk about music," although she admits that music theory doesn't really influence her writing today. "It's more what I hear in my head," she says.

During the early '90s Timony fronted the all-girl punk quartet Autoclave before moving to Boston for an English literature degree and replacing Mary Lou Lord in Helium, the band for which she is still best known.

Timony recently moved back to D.C. to be near family and Ocampo, who also plays with the Dischord band the Medications.

After occasional tours opening for Sleater-Kinney (which she'll be playing for again this year) and a wacky Priceline.com commercial with William Shatner, Timony recorded her last solo album in Richmond at Sound of Music Studios.

She says she has many fond memories of hanging in the studio with "Al Weatherhead and Miguel," walking around the city and eating every day at "that restaurant" whose name she can't recall.

But because her latest record features a new partner and label, Timony says she decided to come full circle and record at the studio where she made her very first recordings, the legendary Inner Ear in D.C.

"Not working with Matador has made me re-evaluate my whole musical career," she says. "Basically, I didn't have any money, so that was a big influence on this record. … It was done pretty cheaply."

But cheap goes good with rock 'n' roll — like a cold Pacifico with a shot of Hornitos — and Timony can't wait to hit the road. "It feels like a band. … We're ready to rock," she says. S



Mary Timony performs at the Nanci Raygun June 21 at 9 p.m. with openers the Medications. Tickets are $7 in advance and $8 at the door.



Q&A

What's the worst job you've ever had? Packing records at Rounder Records' warehouse in Boston.

If you weren't a musician, what would you be? A farmer.

What is always in your fridge: Soy milk.

What three albums would you take with you on a desert island? The Medications' new record, "Your Favorite People All in One Place"; this amazing piano player Azita from Chicago; and Garland of Hours from D.C. [featuring JMU grad Amy Domingues on cello].

What's your favorite movie character? The guy from "Driver 23."

What was your best Halloween costume? My mom made me into a strawberry.

What would your lone superpower be? Invisible.

If you could say one thing to President Bush what would it be? You're a warmonger. … You should retire and go play golf. — B.B.

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