Sounds of Summer: Moments with percussion

KENNY KEMP | Gazette-Mail
Sounds of Summer with Anna.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail’s “Sounds of Summer” continues this week with five selections to look into from Features writer Anna Taylor.

I’ve always been more of a music person than a lyrics person with any song I listen to. It’s the sounds, impacts and beats that make or break a song for me. It’s rarely the songwriting. Sometimes I don’t even hear the words when there are lyrics. I’m listening for moments.

Is that relatable? I’m not sure.

For my Sounds of Summer, I’m sharing five songs that renew my appreciation for the instruments I was trained in growing up — percussion.

I didn’t include songs with grooves or feels made famous by Neil Peart (Rush), John Dolmayan (System of a Down), Phil Collins (Genesis), Travis Barker (Blink 182), Questlove (The Roots) or any other high profile drummer you may have heard of. Instead, I went for songs with subtle and not-so subtle percussion moments. Some you may have heard before.

They’re all modern songs about who knows what. I’m just here for the music.

“Love Lockdown” Janina Gavankar

Yes, this is a cover of the Kanye West song. This version features marimba and a nice heartbeat from brushes against the snare. Sidenote: the performer is also a TV actress. You may recognize her from “Sleepy Hollow” or “True Blood.”

“Eye of the Needle” Sia

This song comes from the same album as “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart,” so this is basically when Sia exploded into mainstream music. I like this song for a very, very nerdy reason — you can hear the snare beads so clearly. I’m done.

“Flyin’” Regina Spektor

This is just a cajón and Spektor’s voice. It’s a simple beat and almost sounds like the song was improvised in the studio, because it’s raw and just two minutes long.

“Disparate Youth” Santigold

I love running to this song. If you listen to it, you can probably figure out why. The combination of the cymbals and electronic drum pad the musician uses gives you that adrenaline rush right when you need it.

“Believer” Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons tend to like the intensity of a bass drum and toms. I mean, they use a concert bass for “Radioactive” and I know you’ve heard that song if you’ve listened to any mainstream radio station within the past few years. This song has that same impact.

Anna Taylor is a features writer for the Gazette-Mail and one half of the brains behind Fashionably Awkward, the paper’s fashion and beauty-based video series and blog. When she isn’t writing about people, art or makeup, you may find her running by the Kanawha River or exploring the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia.Reach Anna Taylor at, 304-348-4881 or follow @byannataylor on Twitter.

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