Kevin Winter, Getty Images T.I. and Lil Wayne are teaming up once again, only this…
- Posted on May 13th 2010 11:30AM by Kenneth Partridge
Had Argos been leading his usual band, Art Brut, he'd have sold the place out. Instead, he was fronting Everybody Was in the French Resistance ... Now!, a "concept" group that writes responses to popular love songs. Actually, that's one of two concepts -- the other has to do with, as the group's name suggests, World War II. This second concept applies only to one song, 'Creeque Allies,' the opener on both the band's debut album, 'Fixin' the Charts, Volume 1,' and in Wednesday's set.
"So, let me tell you about the occupation of France in the 1940s," a grinning Argos said to start the night. He knew the 10 songs he was about to sing were going to be hard sells, even to Art Brut fans, but he, keyboardist -- and girlfriend -- Dyan Valdes and guitarist Ian Catskilkin stood proudly behind their goofball compositions. They even kept straight faces as they prefaced 'Creeque' with the French national anthem.
After the brief history lesson -- really, the tune is about Nazis and the 'Défense de la France' newspaper -- Argos turned to his most beloved subject: pop music. On 'Coal Digger,' he updated Kanye West's 'Gold Digger,' taking the side of the fast-food worker slammed in the rapper's original. Argos has worked a fryolator or two in his day, and he'd rather not be spoken down to, thank you very much.
'Billie's Genes,' meanwhile, is Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean' told from the point of view of the illegitimate son Jackson denies fathering in the original. It's a fascinating idea for a song, but as with so many 'Fixin' the Charts' tunes, Argos doesn't quite pull it off. He's one of today's most inventive and entertaining rock lyricists, mostly because he's more a talker than a singer, but 'Billie's Genes' feels dashed off and obvious. Musically, the trio relied on canned drums, supplied by Valdes' keyboard, so the evocation of Jackson's iconic driving beat failed to have its intended effect.
Argos seemed to admit the shortcomings of this latest project as he introduced 'My Way (It's Not Always the Best Way),' his send-up of Frank Sinatra's signature tune. Argos explained that he's too mistake-prone a guy to eschew the advice of others, and he said friends tried to warn him about starting Everybody Was in the French Resistance ... Now! "Perhaps I should have listened," he said.
Before calling it a night, Argos slammed Martha Reeves, the woman behind the Motown hit 'Jimmy Mack,' and Avril Lavigne. Reeves, in Argos' estimation, is guilty of taunting her man, hence his indignant reply, 'Hey! It's Jimmy Mack.' Lavigne, or at least the Lavigne portrayed in the tune 'Girlfriend,' he says, is a man-stealing succubus, one deserving of the rebuke track 'G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N. (You Know I've Got A).'
Argos' beef with Lavigne may stem from the controversy surrounding her 2007 single 'Girlfriend,' which critics say sounds suspiciously like 'I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,' by power-pop mainstays the Rubinoos. In a show of solidarity with the New Jersey rockers, Argos closed with a cover of the Rubinoos tune, singing a line that, at least in the context of his latest band, unfortunately wasn't true: "I'm gonna make you love me before I'm done."