The Posies released Solid States, their best album in years, on April 29.

G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society's Shit), Trans Day of Revenge

What's that adage about how apologizing later is better than asking for permission first? It doesn't matter, G.L.O.S.S. don't give a fuck about your permission or your forgiveness. Released the day after the massacre in Orlando, Trans Day of Revenge takes your grief and morphs it into acid tears flung at your opposition, an unadulterated rage that focuses rather than consumes. Clocking in at just less than seven minutes, these five songs feel like release and independence. Their deep, resounding anger impels the listener to action. It's the kind of anger that becomes a hunger to stay alive. Queers bash back—because they fucking have to. KS

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Don McGreevy at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (January 30)

Best known as bassist for drone-rock heavies Earth and drummer for global-rock subversives Master Musicians of Bukkake, Don McGreevy is also a composer and guitarist of exquisite refinement. He proved this on January 30 when he conducted a magnificent performance of Temporal Nature of Stability with his Sulphuric Symphony. McGreevy called it "a post-minimalist symphonic piece," written to evoke the tragic poisoning of unsuspecting citizens by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in 1986. With help from keyboardists Wayne Horvitz and David Golightly, guitarists Chris Martin and Kimberly Morrison, and many other local underground-music luminaries, McGreevy created a piece that radiated a powerful poignancy, which did utmost justice to its grave subject matter. DS

The Monkees, "Me & Magdalena"

It may not sound like the highest praise to say that Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and the Postal Service has written the best Monkees song since "As We Go Along" (Head soundtrack, 1968), but friends, it absolutely is. The recent Good Times LP is a mixed bag—some strong tunes by pop masters alongside a bit of double-reverse slumming (it's hard to imagine Rivers Cuomo listening to the Monkees for pleasure)—until this song comes out of nowhere, blinding you with drowsy melancholy, Gibbard's inexhaustible gift for melody, and the particular beauty of Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz, their tenor voices weathered but still vital, harmonizing. It's the only song on the record that sounds like it might have been a candidate for inclusion on Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. (maybe a "The Door into Summer" B-side?), the only one that actually brushes up against the thing that made the whole project of the Monkees into art. SN

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, EARS

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith claims to have been inspired by communing with Orcas Island's natural splendors as a youth, and her music definitely bears an enchanted, arboreal quality. But it ultimately sounds like a graceful synthesis of organic and electronic elements cohering into unconventionally beautiful compositions that would probably weird out viewers of the PBS show Nature. Bearing similarities to the works of Holly Herndon with their celestial vocal tonalities, EARS comes off like pop music for a world that's leaped into a much higher IQ level and has eradicated bellicose impulses. DS

Knife Pleats, Hat Bark Beach

Though this was technically released last year, it's the new band featuring Rose Melberg, one of the essential architects of Northwest indie punk, which means you absolutely want and need to hear it. In keeping with their name, the band has a slightly sharper edge than the sounds normally associated with Melberg's early work with the Softies and Tiger Trap or her later solo albums. But the contrast is a sign of vitality, Melberg's impeccable melodies and twilight voice are still thrillingly to the fore, and the record is 27 minutes long, a miniaturized diorama of pure pleasure. SN

Puget Soundtrack at Northwest Film Forum

True, musicians have been re-scoring old films live in real time for many years. But Puget Soundtrack has succeeded smashingly because curator Courtney Sheehan has an epicurean's ear and eye for matching up adventurous local musicians with classic cult movies. Last year, Newaxeyes out-horrored Jerry Goldsmith's original soundtrack for Ridley Scott's sci-fi thriller Alien. This year, Ecstatic Cosmic Union unspooled soundscapes of psychedelic grandeur that turned Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal into a much stranger trip than it's ever been. Similarly, Corespondents captured the surreal chaos of Japanese horror flick Hausu with extraordinary nuance. Through this sonic alchemy, Puget Soundtrack gives you a new and deeper appreciation for familiar films. DS

The Posies, Solid States

Beset by distance and the recent deaths of two bandmates, the Posies were perhaps not the likeliest candidates to return with an exuberant, inventive album. But circumstances forced (or maybe invited) Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow to return to their original incarnation as a two-member bedroom band—never mind that the bedrooms were on different continents (and were actually probably fairly well-equipped studios). Without the internal combustion of their rock band identity to push things along, the songwriters turned inward, and it yielded the most engaging and engaged work these guys have done in many years, together or apart. Though the whole record is gorgeous, special notice is reserved for "Squirrel vs. Snake," an urgent, epic cri de coeur in the form of a perfect power-pop diamond. If songs like this were still allowed to become hits, the world would feel a lot more just. In the absence of such a possibility, it's all the more stirring to know someone is still writing and singing them. SN

DoNormaal, Make Space Zine Release Show at the Factory (May 20)

I cry maybe three or four times a year, but I really lost it at this show. Additional disclosure: I was on the bill with DoNormaal, but the night was all about her set. The Factory is a small space, slanted and cramped, with high ceilings and no shortage of darkness to go around. The tightly knit crowd was shrouded in projected photos (mine) and filtered lights from the hallway. DoNormaal worked from the far corner, vibrating at an intensely low frequency and quietly lashing fragments out like shrapnel, yet there was no bloodshed, no aggression—only deep understanding and languid expression. Crying felt natural in response to her performance, simply a way to act as tributary to a more expansive body of fluid urgency. KS

Bird of Youth, Get Off

One of the hardest things about getting older is letting go of the familiar comfort of wallowing in dramatic grief. That's not the same as being happy, obviously. But at a certain point, it becomes clear that disappointment, heartache, loss, etc. aren't aberrations. They're the meat. They're the marrow. And they have to be incorporated into the everyday job of life in a way that forces you to let go of treating them like an event. That blunt understanding courses through this album. The songs are all about the cringing bummer of looking backward, the brutality of actual loss, the understanding that old hunger is still alive even as the clock keeps ticking—but all the feeling is channeled into a classically (though not quite "classic") rock urge. (The template is early-middle-period R.E.M. and Replacements/first two Pretenders albums/Elvis Costello and the Attractions.) There's no time to wallow when the songs are so well-constructed and the lyrics so frank and clever ("I was young and I was such a flirty bitch/Shit's less cute when you're 36"). The album is driven by the imperative to make your heart beat faster so that you know it's still beating. I've spent so much time with it in the past couple of months that I almost forgot it was new. SN