City Paper staff recommends some summer music

Kleenex/LiLiPUT, "First Songs" (Kill Rock Stars)

The cover of Kleenex/Liliput's compilation album "First Songs," released last December as a double LP with their music from 1978-1982, features three of the band's female members in cardboard, vaguely crustacean-inspired costumes, a la Dada daddy Hugo Ball's iconic "cubist costume" from 1916. The Dada riff makes sense; the Swiss punk band's (who had to change their name to Liliput when Kleenex, the brand, threatened legal action) hopscotching, often nonsensical, horn-honking songs are loud and lawless, in a way. They were contemporary with, and occasionally both more and less poppy than, the Raincoats and the Slits, and today Liliput resonates in weirdo improv punks Palberta's guttural hollers, in Girlpool's twangy swells and shouts, to name just a couple. Liliput wrote most of their songs in English, music critic Greil Marcus writes in the album's liner notes, a language mostly unfamiliar to them, because it "was a field of chance, happenstance—as Liliput picked out words for their sounds and then tried to string them together with a semblance of logic, meanings would be lost and meanings would emerge out of the mess." Liliput's sense of serious playfulness—vocal whoops and growling yelps and squeaks and whistles punctuating songs like 'Hitch Hike' and 'Dolly Dollar'—finds liberation in loopy logic. (Rebekah Kirkman)

Mountain Man, "Made the Harbor" (Bella Union)

An album for an early summer morning, when it's slightly overcast outside or perhaps your curtains are still drawn, a bluish light diffusing through them. You are alone, about to make your first cup of coffee, but the silky, Appalachian folk-ish harmonies of Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and Amelia Randall Meath (also of Sylvan Esso) fill out the room. Something about them gives the morning a texture of thin linen and a cool breeze, raw honey on fresh bread. For four years now, you've only slightly misheard the lyrics on 'Animal Tracks,' the album's second song, "We'll drink horse bark root beer . . . " as "We'll drink Coors by the pier/ and sit on your back stairs/ and I'll whisper in your ear/ in the summer air" because Coors and a pier made more sense the first time you heard it. Sometimes taking the shape of a traditional folk song or round ('Babylon') or a hymn ('Honeybee'), the album offers illustrations of nature and land and travel among a series of intimacies (hand-holding, hands moving up sleeves, bed sheets, hips and bones, "milky sweat") that beckon you to just sit, just listen. The most potent song on here, 'Soft Skin,' ponders an imbalance between power/pain and tenderness, stopping short before coming to any resolution. Sinking into the couch for the album's 30-or-so minutes, perhaps you allow yourself to let go a little bit. (Rebekah Kirkman)

Carly Rae Jepsen, "Emotion Side B" (Interscope Records)

The sugar-sweet earworm virtuosa released this EP of songs omitted from her highly regarded 2015 album "Emotion" late last August, just as the summer was winding down. Which was too bad, because the eight tracks on "Side B" are bouncy road trip bangerz that might get you pulled over for speeding—in the best way. But now that summer's here, we can push 70 with the windows rolled down and Carly blasting. "Side B" is just as strong a dose of synth-y dopamine as "Emotion," though in some songs it's more darkly diaristic. Whereas a track like 'Run Away With Me' off "Emotion" embraces going on romantic adventures in pairs, "Side B's" grown-up Girl Scout chant 'Store' ("I'm just going to the store, to the store/ I'm just going to the store/ You might not see me any more, any more/ I'm just going to the store") suggests leaving his ass behind and going your own way. And this summer, maybe that's just the vacation you need. "Side B" feels more like a part two than a collection of rejects (Jepsen allegedly picked the tracks for "Side B" from the 200-plus songs that didn't make it onto "Emotion"), further proving that Jepsen shouldn't be forever associated with the pestilential 2012 single that launched her into fame, 'Call Me Maybe,' but with records like this one instead. (Maura Callahan)

Luke Bell, "Luke Bell" (Bill Hill)

With a dumb hunk grin, naif tattoos, and clear emotional intelligence, Luke Bell proffers a mix of laconic folk, serious honky-tonk, and witty western swing touched with resignation and self-aware humor, amid scurrying songs about hard work and hard fucking. But start with the more literary 'The Bullfighter,' a fleshy character sketch and auto-critique with a shit ton of on-point bro-y psychology to it ("I get loud when I get mad/ And I get tough when I get sad") and a hook that locates the bittersweet spot where swagger, delusion, and depression meet. The rest of "Luke Bell" reads less lofty on the page—Bell is more Townes Van Zandt than Bob Dylan, a punchy craftsman with a good ear and a less oblique sense of humor. On 'Glory and the Grace' he praises nature like a Wal-Mart Wordsworth and the song's thrills are just as much in the jaunty New Orleans piano, tumbling drumming, and the way Bell sings and hollers, trying to keep up. Bell even breaks and laughs a bit when he sings on that one, and on the album cover, he looks like he's about to laugh or maybe he's just all high and giggly. It is very much a record about being outside and boozily fun and drunkenly sad, all of which feels very summer-like to this in-transition bro who gets loud when he gets mad and tough when he gets sad like Bell's Bullfighter. (Brandon Soderberg)

Fennesz, "Endless Summer" (Mego Records)

Named after either the 1966 surfer travelogue documentary or maybe the 1974 Beach Boys compilation but probably both, Austrian avant-guitarist Christian Fennesz's 2001 album is full of acoustic and electric guitar processed and destroyed and hurled back out as pieces of something previously pretty and melodious. Imagine the frazzled and frayed make-out music of My Bloody Valentine without its rebellious thrust, just the swirls of hiss and noise left behind. "Endless Summer's" title track is eight minutes of campfire acoustic strumming tripped up and inhaled by gurgles, bleeps, and bloops, and the skipping, fizzing closer, 'Happy Audio,' recalls ants all over a hot dog left in the grass, tiny skitters, like microscopic legs crawling and scraping a soft surface while a loop of synthesizers cry out, kind of like Alan Parsons Project's 'Sirius' (AKA the Chicago Bulls song) if it never quite got going. And the way the music here glitches and breaks is about the closest music sounds and feels to floating in water I can think of, like drifting in a pool stoned and alone or nervously swimming out into the ocean with friends at midnight—thrilling fun with a touch of menace to it. Like the best summer music such as Hüsker Dü's 'Celebrated Summer' or Triple Six Mafia's 'Da Summa,' "Endless Summer" understands the June, July, and August are at their core, melancholy months. (Brandon Soderberg)

Eddie Henderson, "Sunburst" (Blue Note Records)

I picked up this 1975 record years ago in a Raleigh, North Carolina record shop next to my house because of its cover—an image of trumpeter Henderson sent through what looks like "Predator" vision meets cheap psychedelia of footage of the sun—which I saw through the window. But the personnel listed in the liner notes really sold it: joke-funk virtuoso George Duke on electric piano, clavinet, synthesizer, and some marimbas from vibes hero Bobby Hutcherson. Henderson's trumpeting, which gets echoed or is doubled, makes "Sunburst" neither as overtly experimental as Miles Davis' '70s work or as delightfully cornball as a lot of jazz-funk (not that there's anything wrong with that) and all the sounds ooze and melt in one another, eschewing progressive rock and jazz precision for a floating, imprecise vibe that feels a bit like heat hitting you and sweat building on your brow, soft yet agitated. Some Googling for more info on this record led me to a music blog titled Opium Hum, with surprising Baltimore ties. "Some spaced but hard-hitting jazz-funk from trumpeter Eddie Henderson and company that I recently had the pleasure of listening to while walking around Loch Raven reservoir, high on hydrocodone and muscle relaxers," writes blogger DEAR_SPIRIT, giving you a much more cogent praise of this record as a summer album than whatever it is I tried to say above. (Brandon Soderberg)

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