Belly, “Shiny One” (PledgeMusic). Honestly, I did not expect to be impressed by Belly in 2018. But Tanya Donelly and company have come back strong with a song pregnant with a subtle Eastern psychedelic lilt and sensual beauty in the melody. Bonus: The production smacks of Smashing Pumpkins' billowing robustness circa Gish. There's an overall sense of spiraling ascent here that will have your eyes blissfully rolling around their sockets by the time "Shiny One"'s swirling, celebratory coda arrives. Could be the feel-good hit of the spring. You can find "Shiny One" on Dove (out May 4), Belly's first album in 23 years. (Belly play the Neptune Theatre on August 12.)
Liz Phair, “Divorce Song (Girly-Sound Version)” (Matador). Is it cool if we stick to music made by ladies vividly associated with the '90s? All right, then. Here's a piece of indie-rock history restored by Matador Records from its forthcoming 7xLP/3xCD Liz Phair retrospective, Girly-Sound to Guyville: The 25th Anniversary Edition Box Set (out May 4). This finely detailed couples-conflict ballad resonates with greater poignancy in its spindlier, demo-y treatment, before it got polished and quickened for Exile in Guyville. Using a cheap guitar and her sincere af voice, Phair nails the crux of the issue with so many relationships: "[I]t's harder to be friends than lovers/And you shouldn't try to mix the two/Cause if you do it and you're still unhappy/Then you know that the problem is you." (By the way, the box will include a book featuring an oral history compiled by Jason Cohen and essays by Phair and former Seattle journalist Ann Powers.)
Lithics, “Excuse Generator” (Kill Rock Stars). I have a lot of time for modern bands who recall the jittery clangor of Suburban Lawns, Pylon, and early B-52s (all of whom peaked before Lithics' members were born, but that makes this music even cooler somehow). Ergo, I want to shove this coiled, staccato burner by this Portland foursome Lithics to the forefront of your consciousness. Guitarist Aubrey Hornor sings with a perfectly flattened disdain ("Can I be myself?" is the number's sneering mantra) that contrasts wonderfully with the disciplined post-punk attack scything and spasming below her laconic lyrics. "Excuse Generator" comes from Lithics' fantastic Mating Surfaces LP (out May 25). Lithics play Vera Project on March 24 with kindred sonic spirits Shopping.
Dedekind Cut, "MMXIX" (Kranky). Jah damn it, we need all the peaceful music we can cram into our beleaguered earholes during America's hellish regime of corruption, ignorance, and incompetence. That's why albums like Dedekind Cut's Tahoe—out now on the evergreenly excellent Kranky label—is so crucial. "MMXIX" is actually the record's most extroverted and kinetic track, but it's still chiller than an arena full of Brian Eno and Harold Budd fanatics. Gently distorted Tibetan singing bowls, throat-singing monks à la the KLF's Chill Out, crystalline New Age synth ululations, and water splashes (some tropes never get old) all coalesce into a healing pool of relaxation. Have your massage therapist play this during your next session. You've earned it.
Actionesse, "Menace" (self-released). Featuring a bulging bass riff by Paddy Moran that can't decide whether it wants to beat you senseless or impregnate you, "Menace" lives up to its title. The lead track from this Seattle quartet's debut EP, Deep (out May 11), it seethes and writhes with a "post-horncore" (Actionesse's appellation) mercilessness. Joel Kenworthy's sax and trombone embellishments elevate "Menace" to a more nuanced level of rock brutality (putting it up there with similar efforts by Birthday Party and Blurt), adding a feisty, festive air to their low-end aggression. Actionesse's members call this song "the official anthem of desire... the siren song of apathetic excess." Now you know. Keep an ear out for these loco locals.
Noteworthy March 15 album releases: Yo La Tengo, There's a Riot Going On (Matador); Dungen/Woods, Myths 003 (Mexican Summer); Hot Snakes, Jericho Sirens (Sub Pop); Meshell Ndegeocello, Ventriloquism (Naïve); Lil Yachty, Lil Boat 2 (Quality Control/Motown/Capitol); Mount Eerie, Now Only (P.W. Elverum & Sun Ltd.); The Decemberists, I'll Be Your Girl (Capitol); Essaie Pas, New Path (DFA); PRhyme, PRhyme 2 (PRhyme); The Dean Ween Group, Rock, Vol. 2 (Schnitzel); Thundercat, Drank (Brainfeeder); Creep Show, Mr. Dynamite (Bella Union); Snoop Dogg, Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love (RCA); NRBQ, NRBQ  (Omnivore); Bishop Nehru, Elevators: Act I & II (Nehruvia); Green Druid, Ashen Blood (Earache).