Once Upon A Time, in a Mythical Age we'll call the late '90s, when Mary Timony was coloring in her storybook wonderlands of witchcraft and dragons with kitschy keytone zaps, acid-folk flourish, and prog-rock dagginess, all those now-bearded dudes currently bidding online on rare Chasny sides were either uninterested or utterly dismissive of the fact that Timony was quietly crafting most magickal musickry with the nimblest of fingers. Making music only really comparable with the work of collaborateurs Christina Billotte (of Quix*o*tic) and Carrie Brownstein (of Sleater-Kinney), Timony cobbled some sort of musical Frankenstein on the Matador dime, charging her downpicked guitars, irregular tunings, minor-key disharmonies, and doom-metal lyrics with an ungodly life that made their mismatched, stitched-together limbs twitch. Timony created this misshapen mutation with scant regard for historical/tonal/rock-myth fidelity, essentially "feminizing" the kinds of music usually left to the dorkiest of dudes; and those dudes reacted to her like she was a Monster, staggering into their cloistered community, threatening everything they held dear. Routinely derided by said dudes as a pretty girl who could wrap Bowie/Cosloy/McEntire types around her finger, Timony was essentially left alone, free to forge far into the most bizarre realms of her indie-princess-cum-Dungeon-Master worlds, which made for an ongoing, awkwardly-staged fashion parade of self-styled, not-stoned cosmickry.
Of course, now that the folk-revival revival has achieved mass-cultural crossover, Timony should be more in her element. Except the rainbow age of The Magic City, the archaic man-made machinery of Mountains, and the mordant traditional-music medievalism of The Golden Dove are things she's long left behind. Her third solo album finds Timony now living in Los Angeles, now hanging out with, um, the Deftones rocking/rocking-the-boat, making her most direct, distorted disc since she did Helium's The Dirt of Luck a decade ago. Mary's still down with downpicking single-note guitar-lines in mordant minor keys, but, bunking down with Brendan Canty in his D.C. studio, Ex Hex has a more punk-rock approach, with even its descent/ascent into outright cosmic climes coming through power-trio tightness, all culminating in a seven-minute mantra that's really just the "Paranoid" riff ripped in half, and repeated endlessly.
Which, in itself, is an ironic collision of Timony and The Times. As, even though
her rockband belligerence has taken her far from the Banhart clan at the neo-folk
core, Timony's ripping off of Sabbath and singing of silly doom-metal lyrics
aren't about to earn her Wolfmother bucks, either. Those dick-clutching Arthur-ites
wouldn't stand for it.