I was too busy noshing on Cool Ranch Dorritos to catch the Charm Offensive last night at Fort Reno—sorry guys—but I did manage to see all of Medications‘ set and five or six songs of Mary Timony‘s set.

To these ears, Medications has never sounded better. They played two songs that I didn’t recognize, songs that are much sunshinier and more straightforward than the math-pop of their EP and full-length. Plus, bassist Chad Molter is singing more now, which can only help. The guy’s got a great voice (and a great falsetto).

Molter and Medications guitarist Devin Ocampo are both a part of Mary Timony’s trio, and both bands have a similar sound: an off-kilter middle-ground between prog and pop. One of the folks I was with kept name checking Yes as Timony’s set progressed, but we’re talking Yes on the radio—you know, “Roundabout”—not Tales From Topographic Oceans.

The comparisons to Timony’s old band Helium are obvious: guitar-bass-drums trio with Timony leading the way. But I saw Helium a number of times in the ’90s and never enjoyed them as much as I enjoy her new band.

Back when her last record came out (Ex Hex, her first after leaving Matador), I had an exchange with a higher-up in the Matador administration in which we both agreed that Timony is making her best music in years. He said, since Helium’s first record. I think since Autoclave.

Whatever. There was a point last night when the sun had just gone down and the only thing illuminating the band was a streetlight. They were just silhouettes with halo-like outlines. The music had taken a darker turn and the image of the figures doing their work against the blue-black of the DC sky was magical to behold.

Finished the night at Guapos, of course, with bean burrito and dos Dos Equis.