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chosen as one of the top 10 bands to 'graduate from the local scene and take on the world'
- San Francisco Bay Guardian (Sept, 2004)
The band Scrabbel, originally started as a duo featuring Dan Lee (Aislers Set) & Becky Barron (#Poundsign#)
has been spending the last year shuffling its indie pop sounds into an astounding triple word score combination.
On Scrabbel's second full length recording, "1909", mastermind Dan Lee (who plays everything from keyboards to guitar to clarinet to speak & spell) has jumbled string sections with whimsical pop, early British invasion melodies and electro blip beats. He even incorporates the ambient sounds of a BART subway station to create something simply original, perhaps a word that you couldn't find in the dictionary to prove that it existed to win the game. Who knew?
"1909" brims with the unique sound combinations of Scrabbel, now a studio solo project from its creator Dan Lee. Highlights include the title track, which starts in a simple guitar plucked melody that is overtaken by a drum machine followed close behind by a string trio. The echoing vocals tell a tale of heroes, villains, fear, waiting and a loaded gun. All this melodic drama & intrigue within a 3 1/2 minute pop song! Also represented on this release are songs that take a completely different twist, like the pure wistful harmonies of "Last Train" and "Sena Song" (the latter of which is stamped with a nod to early songs of the Who). These mesh well into the trip hop samples & keyboard instrumental "Save the Green Planet". The cheerful harmonies are enough to make you not pay enough attention to the lyrics, but then they seep through revealing the second layer of the bliss, songwriting. On the lovely xylophone pinged "Nicotine" Lee compares romantic rebounds to giving up cigarettes through the use of a patch:
"Emily come back, he's like nicotine from patch,
it's no cure at all, you stop & stall.
Let's debate the truth of why he's waking up with you,
it's a spiteful take on my mistake".
The CD finishes with the hum of a subway train, the buzz of a Hammond organ, the strains of the cello & violin strings pulling the elements together to crescendo into "Riot Series". A nearly neo-indie prog event that accomplishes the task of bringing every sound together to fit the scene of the vision and the heart of the lyrics:
"I saw your photographs on the gallery wall,
a series of black & whites and colored hues
and how you caught it all in time & space,
the devil's emotion in her eyes and face,
and I can trace those scars to race."
Scrabbel brings such a wide array of music, lyrics & pure emotion together, gathering it up and neatly parceling it out tidy packages of pop that will cause you struggle with the word to define it. Perhaps it's the word that you won't be able to find in the dictionary for the triple word score. Maybe it's Scrabbel.
- Michele Flannery, AOL RADIO Senior Music Director
Scrabbel (s/t) (2001)
(photo courtesy tony vadakan)
San Francisco duo Scrabbel's self-titled debut finds #Poundsign#'s
Becky Barron teaming up with Dan Lee to craft crisp, dreamy twee pop that is so
laid-back and effortless that it almost begs to be overlooked. Sweet girl/boy vocals
combine with clean guitars, keyboards, and assorted percussion and other instruments
to make music that exists in the same realm as groups like the Rosa Chance Well,
Kahimi Karie, Ethnobabes, Luna, and Shebrews. Pop for indie kids who think Mates of State
are a little too rockin'. Scrabbel's brand of dreamy, airy, lite techno jazz would be
perfectly at home among the acts on France's MiniTenor label or Britain's Dreamy. ....the
songs are all well-played and arranged and the vocals are sweet and dreamy ....on repeated
listening, it is clear that Scrabbel has a lot to offer, and the songs paint lovely pictures
with their lyrics and instruments....
- Karen E. Graves, All Music Guide
We've been waitin' so long for these folks' to bring copies of this in. They dropped
off a copy for us to check out many months ago, to which we swiftly said "yes, please!".
At last it's here and just in time for summer, and y'know what? That's the perfect season
for Scrabbel's debut! These two pals of the Aislers Set (actually Dan Lee is the new
keyboardist for the 'Set, while Becky Baron can also be found behind the drumkit for the
band #Poundsign#) fit well alongside A.S., exuding a youthful sing-song air that also
made me think of a less hyper, acoustic Apples In Stereo - perhaps in part due to their
girl/boy buttercream icing vocals and strummy guitars. However, they do throw their own
tasty twists and shimmies in there: a mellow loungey organ melody, a lo-fi drum machine
beat, an assortment of kitschy samples and various other noisemakers (horns and kazoos!).
- Aquarius Records (SF)
In the world of holey cardigans, geeky glasses with thick frames, and
Belle and Sebastian shows, some indie-poppers may think that they don't
need anything more. Not so: at least, not without Scrabbel, anyway. The
Bay Area multi-instrumentalist duo that makes up Scrabbel shows the
indie-pop world that the letter 'S' can stand for words like sweet and
shy and not sickly. On Dan Lee and Becky Barron's debut self-titled
release, the songs bring to mind Unrest before Mark Robinson's ego got
the best of him, Moose before their obscurity made them...well,
obscure, mixed in with The Beatles before they became a household name.
The letter 'D' doesn't stand for derivative, though: in this case it
stands for delightful. I look forward to future Scrabbel
- elle a, Bay Area Buzz
4 out of 5 stars
- All Music Guide