steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"1909" CD

Three Ring Records

Genres: indie pop

Three Ring
PO Box 883123
San Francisco CA

Nov 8 - 14 2005

Up until 2002 the cryptically named Scrabbel were a twee pop duo of Dan Lee and Becky Barron. Following an acclaimed debut album on Kittridge, Barron left, leaving the band solely in the hands of Lee. After a stint with the Aislers Set, Lee returned to recording music and created 1909 with the help of a bunch of friends. This is a surprisingly diverse and deep record, featuring varied instruments like cello, violin, trumpet, clarinet, and organ in addition to traditional pop band standards. Though mellow and lush, 1909 can't really be given the twee tag as it's more grandiose and complex than is typically expected from the genre. The covers of +/- (ex-Versus) and Kinks songs are a nice indicator of Scrabbel's style, which combines an indie mentality with a basic pop sensibility.

The lovely "Sena Song" starts off the record in a very good vein; the album is kept entertaining (though sometimes a bit passive) via solid pop tunes like "Last Train" and the terrific "Not Right."  Occasionally Scrabbel opts for a bit of experimentation, as evidenced in instrumental "Save the Green Planet" and finale "Riot Series," which starts off with electronic bleeps before moving into original pop territory. The clarinet and cello of "All The Things We Have" also make for a unique and thoroughly enjoyable touch. Also worthy of note is the hidden track, titled "Melody For Melanie" (as seen on Kittridge's Homemade Hits Vol 2 comp.)

As far as sweet and mellow indie pop music goes, 1909 is top of the line. Grab it.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 11 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2005]