Helium, singer/guitarist Mary Timony was born and raised in Washington, D.C., later studying viola at the city's Duke Ellington School of the Arts. During the early '90s she fronted Autoclave, a short-lived but highly regarded girl-punk quartet that issued a pair of EPs on Dischord before dissolving; after graduating from Boston University with a degree in English literature, in 1992 Timony replaced Mary Lou Lord in an early incarnation of Helium, assuming full creative control of the group prior to the release of their acclaimed debut single, "The American Jean." "Hole in the Ground" preceded the trio's 1994 Matador EP Pirate Prude; the brilliant The Dirt of Luck LP appeared the following year, and in 1996 Timony teamed with Shudder to Think bassist Nathan Larson, Dambuilders violinist (and former college roommate) Joan Wasser, and drummer Kevin March in the alt-rock supergroup Mind Science of the Mind. Returning to Helium for 1997's The Magic City, Timony's songs revealed an increasing fascination with the fantastical imagery and sounds of prog rock, a trend continued on her 2000 solo debut, Mountains. Her second solo album, 2002's The Golden Dove, continued this trend, but on 2005's Ex Hex -- which was released by Lookout! Records -- Timony returned to the angular rock of her Helium days. She moved to Kill Rock Stars for 2007's Shapes We Make, which featured an even more streamlined, direct sound and featured Medications' Devin O'Campo and Chad Molter on drums and bass, respectively, as well as contributions from Jawbox's J. Robbins. In 2010, Timony joined Wild Flag, an indie rock supergroup also comprised of Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss plus the Minders keyboardist Rebecca Cole, who offered a self-titled debut LP on Merge the following fall.