Music News

Ben Lee

Although he's still in his twenties, Ben Lee has already been through more personal and professional changes than the average performer three times his age. In the early '90s, when he was just fourteen, this Aussie tunesmith was already leading his own band, the punky Noise Addict. Tastemakers such as Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore discovered the group shortly thereafter, catapulting Lee into cult stardom at an age when most of his peers were practicing their lovemaking skills without the assistance of a partner. But after he issued a couple of albums on the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal imprint, the label folded, and Lee drifted from the limelight; he last made tabloid headlines a couple of years back, after he ended a romance with actress Claire Danes. His latest CD, Awake Is the New Sleep, issued by New West Records, finds him in a particularly mellow place, and he seems happy to be there; his liner notes thank "Master Nan Lu and everybody at the American Taoist Healing Center." Some listeners will be less grateful for songs such as "Gamble Everything for Love," whose sentiments make the gap between Eastern philosophy and the Hallmark Channel seem narrow indeed. Nonetheless, Lee's warm singing, gift for melody and general chipperness offer compensation for the lyrical banalities. When it comes to finding serenity, he's ahead of schedule. What else is new?
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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