Weird thing though is that it IS showing the TRUE album artist despite what we're saying.
And when I tell it to group by the true album artists it is already acknowledging in this panel, it kinda does and kinda doesn't. It does in one group but not the other, when i group by Genre/Album Artist/Album the other one groups properly and vice versa. I wonder if I've reached the end of trying to get this to work. Not a bug per se, but to me all of these closely related terms are too...closely related. Album Artist/Sort Artist/Artist should all be separate things that can be selected or not. If I told the middle panel to sort by sort album artist then i would understand it being confused (as i'm already in that "group"). But I told it album artist, and it did respect that for the most part. But why it's picking and choosing when to behave idk.
Was it said that your genre category idea would create a permanent "rule" that would filter album artists into buckets as I've fashioned?
Ultimately I can live with no separation in the middle screen as long as I don't find any other bugs along the way. Seeing them separated by true album artist would be cool but not worth having to manually tag stuff just for that reason.
Would virtualtags make sense in this respect? I got this recommendation from someone else but that's all kind of confusing to me too
Nothing happening here is unpredictable based on your settings and tags. The grouping heading uses the given tag (Album Artist) and it groups all the tracks with that tag that are placed together based on the sort order. The sorting order uses the SORT tags. That fact you're using the sort tags in a non-standard way is causing an undesired result - if the sort album artist corresponded with the album artist (like The Doors/Doors, The) then they would all group together.
You also asked it to sort by Genre first (before Album Artist) so the tracks with no genre were sorted before the one with a genre, that's standard in MusicBee - nothing comes before something. That would cause some of them to be split up regardless of the Album Artist/Sort Album Artist tags.
Re, Genre Category, try it and see. I feel like I'm repeating myself at this point. Virtual tags could do it, but would be hard to maintain. Genre Categories will do the same thing with a lot less effort to add and remove categories.
Edit: actually, the absolute easiest thing would be to either create filters for your library, to the effect of "Album Artist is any of ..." for each filter (bucket). Or make autoplaylists that do the same thing, and put them in a Buckets folder. Then you don't have to mess around with genre tags or sort tags. Your buckets just won't be in the thumbnail or column browser. Super simple, using MusicBee's features the way they're designed to be used.