This week’s “Sounds of Summer” comes from food and features writer Jennifer Gardner.
My music selection is often inconsistent. I typically listen to a mix of folk, country, acoustic and rock, but occasionally I go through a phase of R&B or pop music.
I managed to compile a list of songs I recently discovered and became addicted to. Most of it is new music from my favorite artists, but some of it is just love renewed.
Also, fair warning, I can be emotional and sappy. I get it from my mama.
Waxahatchee’s “Sparks Fly”
I first heard Waxahatchee (Katie Crutchfield) on NPR’s Tiny Desk Series, where her raw personality stole my heart. It’s easy to connect to her down-to-earth, fierce persona.
Her newest album, “Out in the Storm,” came out in mid-July, and I’m obsessed. It’s a breakup album and it’ll make you feel all the feels.
I recommend listening to the whole thing, but “Sparks Fly” is probably my favorite.
Sundy Best “These Mountains”
This duo headlined at Live on the Levee in early July and their energy won the crowd over almost immediately. I’d never heard of them, but after the show I met a new friend from Kentucky who said they were a big hit in Lexington.
On a recent road trip, I put their full list of songs on repeat and couldn’t help but sing my lungs out. Their music just makes you feel at home and happy, and this song is just one example of that.
I’m not a native West Virginian, but as I embark on my 10th year in the state, I can honestly say I’ve found a home here. I’ve considered getting a tattoo of the lyrics “These mountains, they stole my heart” from this song as a reminder of how much this state will always mean to me.
Too basic? Probably.
Manchester Orchestra “The Gold”
I have not always enjoyed Manchester Orchestra’s music but I really like their new album, “A Black Mile to the Surface.” There’s just something about the strong vibe of it that I really enjoy.
I was curious about the lyrics of this song, “I don’t wanna bark here anymore. Black hills, the colly. Wasn’t really dangerous for us. We just catch you coughing. What the hell are we gonna do? A black mile to the surface. I don’t wanna be here anymore. It all tastes like poison.”
So after a little research, I found that Black Hills is a mountain range in South Dakota, famous for its gold rush, and colly means to blacken, as in with coal dust. So, “black mile to the surface” is actually a long journey from the bottom of this collapsing mine (metaphorical for a collapsing relationship), to a working relationship.
That being said, I also really like the song “The Alien” from this album.
Passenger “Sweet Louise”
Prepare for a sap fest. If I ever get married, this could be the song I dance to at my wedding.
This is the chorus, “She hits me in the heart. She drops me to my knees. And I don’t know where I’d be without you, Sweet Louise.”
The first time I heard it, I teared up a little because it’s just so lovely and simple. It’s so dreamy — the kind you just want to dance around to in the kitchen making dinner with your love.
Coming from Passenger, this isn’t really a surprise. Their music is always simple, sweet and just enough to make me emotional.
“Sweet Louise” is on their new album “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
Amos Lee “Windows Are Rolled Down”
Very few artists put me at ease the way Amos Lee does. I didn’t recently discover him, but my move to Charleston in May was stressful and just like the other 10-plus moves in my life, there was uncertainty about whether I’d like it here.
Lee’s voice is soulful and brings me home. His music reminds me of a barbecue joint I went to with my family nearly every Saturday for lunch when we lived in southern Maryland. It’s where I learned about soul through the Blues.
Jennifer Gardner, not to be confused with the actress, Jennifer Garner, who yes, is also from Charleston, joined the Gazette-Mail in May after graduating from West Virginia University with degrees in journalism and criminology. Her hobbies include hiking, crochet and drinking wine.
Reach Jennifer Gardner at