A Somnolent Song?

19 Apr

The last time I did a SWOD was July, 2010. SWOD (song/word of the day) is a category that I started to profile vocabulary words and corresponding songs. On the way back to my house today, “Sleep” by The Dandy Warhols lulled me into a state of musical bliss, and somewhere in the repetitive riff I thought today would be a good day to bring back the SWOD. Thank the Dandy Warhols for their help!

Word: Somnolent (adj)- sleepy; drowsy

The Dandy Warhols formed in Portland, Oregon back in 1994 and they have released 10 albums to this date, spreading their alt/indie rock sound and apt pun band name. It is fitting that one of the band’s main inspirations is the Velvet Underground. In 2000 they released arguably their best album Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, and today’s somnolent hit resides on track eight. Is “sleep” a drowsy song?

In one word, yes, “Sleep” fits neatly into the term somnolent. The song is carried by a repetitive guitar riff that mixes with Courtney Taylor-Taylor‘s whispered croon. The band also uses drawn-out studio effects that mesh with melodic chanting. The Dandy Warhols also use a neat song technique in “Sleep” that contributes to the soporific quality of the music. In a melodic move most similar to turning the volume knob on a stereo system down and up, the band slowly drops the studio-effects to highlight the chanting and then gradually works them back into the song. This “lulling” works to achieve a dreamy piece, and this works for the song because of the constant riff in the background.

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