Music » Critics' Picks

Ben Lee with Har Mar Superstar

Thursday, April 7; the Gargoyle (on the Washington University campus, Forsyth and Skinker boulevards)

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During his packed showcase set at South by Southwest, Ben Lee was clearly happy to be in Austin for more than just the beer and barbecue. "We're just so fucking lucky to have music!" he exclaimed gratefully -- without a trace of sarcasm or irony -- in between playing tunes from his new album, Awake Is the New Sleep. That same joyfulness endeared the 26-year-old Australian to alt-rock grandpas Thurston Moore and Mike D of the Beastie Boys, who released his first tunes on their respective labels when Lee was just a precocious teenager banging out bedroom rock with school chums in his first band, Noise Addict. Yet over the course of the last decade and a handful of solo discs, Lee has managed to shed his adolescent wunderkind reputation without losing his sense of wide-eyed wonder. Witness his unabashed love for cheesy pop tunes -- he dueted with fellow Aussie Kylie Minogue on a cover of Duran Duran's "The Reflex" and covered Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" live -- and the earnest sentiments of Sleep. Undulating with gently strummed guitars and subtle electronic throbs, the album would be sappy if its mantras didn't seem beamed directly from Lee's heart.

Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 (free to Wash. U. students). Call 314-935-5917 for more information.

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