When I wrote for Epinions, one cool thing those of us who regularly posted music reviews did was a mixtape exchange. This exchange led to me hearing Ben Lee for the first time. Ironically (maybe?) the person I exchanged mixes with was also named Ben. I believe he was a Jeopardy contestant once. Anyhoo-the first song on the mix Other Ben sent me was the playful “Catch My Disease”.
This song marked my first musical exposure to the Australian singer-songwriter. I’d read about him plenty-Ben Lee was an alt-rock press darling despite a distinct lack of hit records. He was signed to the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal records as a teenager. Press coverage and celebrity connections notwithstanding, there was never any concrete indication that Ben Lee created music that I actually wanted to listen to, until that mixtape. Coincidentally, a few months after I was introduced to the song, I wound up working for the company that distributed the album it appears on!
“Catch My Disease” is effervescent. Listening to it will put a smile on your face. The “that’s the way I like it” refrain will lodge itself in your brain and refuse to leave, and his humorous rundown of artists that get played on the radio (I’d imagine The Sleepy Jackson got tons of play in their native Australia) while acknowledging that he gets no love from radio is endearing. There’s even a toy piano!
Sometimes a song serves no purpose other than to lift your spirits and carry you through the day with a smile on your face. “Catch My Disease” is one of those songs. Thanks, Ben(s).