MUSIC REVIEW
BEN LEE SPLIT-MP3S
 
BY STEVE JUSTICE
 

The Ben Lee splits feature five unreleased Ben Lee songs and five songs by lesser known artists, creating a modern day version of the classic vinyl split-7 inch single. A concept well worth appropriating.

The songs by Lee alone make this collection of splits worth downloading. He shows his Aussie roots on two occasions, covering Kylie Minogue's Confide in Me and Ratcat's That Ain't Bad. The Minogue song is bare bones, but Lee does a nice job of bringing out its darker side. That Ain't Bad is a live track recorded in Sydney almost two years ago. It doesn't rock like the original, but Lee gives it his own youthful touch.

Lee also throws in a pleasantly depressing cover of I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give it Anymore by the Pet Shop Boys. The song is somewhat forgettable, but it worth it for Lee's rationale for recording the tune. "I have always loved that (The Pet Shop Boys) write sad dance music," Lee says. "Lonely lovely boy music. This one hits the spot." Scary.

Two original tracks round out the Lee offerings. Mistakes in the Key of Orange begins with a groovy little spacy instrumental before it turns into a typical old school guitar driven dirge. In The Morning sounds more like an idea for a song than an actual song, probably because that's what it is. Lee, who recently left Grand Royal, says a finished version of this track will probably end up on his next album once he finds a record deal.

The five flip sides range from simplistic German electronic music to annoying catchy novelty pop. Tracks by the Action Suits, New Buffalo and Ben Kweller are all worth a second listen.

The best thing about the splits is the concept. It introduces Ben Lee fans to bands they may never have heard otherwise. That's a good thing. Listeners aren't going to find their new favorite band here, but at least they could increase their appreciation for different sounds.

On the down side, each split combines the Ben Lee song and the lesser flip side into one MP3. It's a little annoying, but savvy users can edit it into two tracks. If that's too tough, suck it up. Remember, all this is free. So quit the damn bellyaching.



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