For almost 30 years, Anohni has been a transformational artist. From performing “Cripple and the Starfish” on 1996’s various artists compilation “God Shave the Queen” to leading Antony and the Johnsons in the early years of the 21st century (releasing acclaimed albums including “The Crying Light” and “I Am a Bird Now”) to going solo on 2016’s “Hopelessness,” Anohni has always remained their distinctive creative vision. Now, coming full circle as Anohni and the Johnsons, this has proven true once again on the stunning “My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross” (Secretly Canadian). With its cover photo of trans icon Marsha P. Johnson to the retro soul of album opener “It Must Change” (a song with an environmental message on par with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”), Anohni is making a statement to which we should listen. The R&B vibe on “Can’t,” “It’s My Fault” (featuring the lines, “It’s my fault/The way I broke the earth”), and “Why Am I Alive Now?,” also make these among Anohni’s most accessible songs. Even the jarring “Go Ahead,” with its Yoko Ono-style arrangement and delivery, doesn’t feel out of place here.
Three-quarters of the all-female Utah-native band The Aces are queer. It’s not four of a kind, but it’s pretty good odds, regardless. The Aces’ new album “I’ve Loved You for So Long” (Red Bull Records) features some of the catchiest and queerest songs you are likely to hear. In other words, there’s no question that these are same-gender love (and love lost) songs, beginning with the title track, featuring the lines, “You’re taking me back babe to where it all started/Wearing your hair up in your New York apartment.” When lead vocalist Cristal Ramirez sings “I don’t know when I fell/She doesn’t know as well,” there’s no doubt about what she’s singing about on “Girls Make Me Wanna Die.” That same openness is found on “Not the Same,” “Person,” “Suburban Blues” and “Attention.” Sonically, The Aces’ pop style could qualify them as a queer Haim.
Blue Broderick of Diners and Charlotte McCaslin of Roselit Bone don’t have much in common when it comes to their music. However, they do share something with the release of their new albums, “Domino” (Bar None) and “Ofrenda” (Get Loud), respectively (both released on black vinyl). The albums are the first to be released following Broderick and McCaslin coming out as trans. Diners’ “Domino” album is pure power-pop with a 21st-century vibe. The 10 original songs sound like summer, regardless of the season, with highlights including “So What,” “Painted Pictures,” “The Power,” “From My Pillow,” “I Don’t Think About You the Way I Used To,” and the sweet “Your Eyes Look Like Christmas to Me.” On “Ofrenda,” Portland-based Roselit Bone has a sound that incorporates retro influences ranging from vintage rock to surf music to rock en espanol/mariachi to girl-group pop, giving the album a nostalgic quality without sounding overly familiar. It’s a highly successful and enjoyable effort that deserves repeated spins.
A self-described “queer as hell four-piece,” featuring lead vocals by Tiff Hannay, Rodeo Boys combine its rural roots, grunge, and southern twang for its distinctive sound on the album “Home Movies” (Don Giovanni Records). All of those factors combine on the poppy opener “Feel the Same.” When Hannay lets out that scream on “Sugar,” you know she’s listened to her fair share of L7 and Hole. Rodeo Boys know when to slow down the pace, as it does on “Hail Mary,” while a respectable reading of Blondie’s “One Way or Another” shows it has good musical taste in cover tunes.