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Matador Records’ cavalcade of mid-1990s stars has generally devolved into a sad procession of makeovers, flameouts, and fadeaways: Liz Phair developed pop hang-ups; Stephen Malkmus went prog; Jon Spencer ran out of ideas; Yo La Tengo seemed to hover to the side, peacefully; and Robert Pollard rode into pseudo-retirement with an army of fanboys in tow. Only a few of the era’s survivors—Cat Power’s Chan Marshall, for instance, and some of the Chavez guys—still seem fresh. And you can add Mary Timony to that list. Sure, she he had her own proggish streak after Helium floated away (2000’s Mountains and 2002’s The Golden Dove), but her return to the D.C. area has definitely provided a focused jolt of punkish creativity. Last year’s Ex Hex is confidently lean, with few of the post-Celtic touches and none of the arty instrumentation that she lugged around for about a half-decade. It’s essentially a power-duo record, with Timony cranking out terse riffs and Medications frontman Devin Ocampo embracing the drum duties. He gives the songs just enough thunder and just enough splash, and Timony sounds convinced that rockin’ out is a natural state, not just a career move. The songs—especially fist-pumpers like “Hard Times Are Hard!” and “On the Floor”—are built for the stage, too. Generally unencumbered by pianos, strings, and all that stuff, Timony is free to simply mash pedals, be sexy, and let notes ring. Experience the evolution when Mary Timony Band (pictured) plays with the Aquarium and Timony’s brother’s band, the Picture is Dead, at 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, on the Black Cat’s Backstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $7. (202) 667-7960. (Joe Warminsky)