Review/Photos: Everybody Was in the French Resistance….Now! @ Schubas Tavern in Chicago, IL; 05.06.2010

words and photos by Kirstie Shanley

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Eddie Argos by Kirstie Shanley

Eddie Argos can do no wrong.  The lead singer of Art Brut and his newest incarnation, Everybody Was in the French Resistance…Now! appears as if he grew up reading comic books and Oscar Wilde simultaneously with a wit to match.  It’s easy to see him being successful at any band he wanted to form because it’s him who, in fact, makes the band work.  The man could be entertaining doing just about anything in life and adding a little bit of light and laughter to anyone lucky enough to cross his path. It’s not just a British charm and wit but a sense of movement with the hilarity.  Argos also has a sense of passion to help make the intelligence behind his lyrics quite engaging.  Whether he’s revealing autobiographical information, as is sometimes the case for Art Brut songs, or creating works of fiction it seems effortless for him either way.  It’s like he has the ability to take any concept in it and breathe tremendous life in it.

This new band has a slightly different sort of premise than Art Brut but is nonetheless intriguing.  In a way, the songs are like covers taken to a new level.  Argos always changes something key so that he makes them stylistically and lyrically his own.  In many ways, they seem inspired by an original or also an answer or different perspective than the earlier version may have proffered.  From songs about the occupation of Nazi France to those inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” (manifested as “Billie’s Genes”),  there was quite a range of material covered.  One could imagine a younger Stephen Fry fronting a band saying some of the same very absurd things Argos said to introduce the songs, such as that Michael Jackson was really his father.  Though the songs are truly gems on their own, the best treat is honestly just to listen to his comedic banter.

In Everybody Was in the French Resistance…Now!  Eddie Argos continues to make pop songs out of garage rock in a way that makes them as meaningful as they are catchy.  The lineup of the band is significantly different than that of Art Brut but nonetheless works well. Dylan Valdes, who is also Argos’s girlfriend fills in a lushness of backup female vocals and keyboards that create a different sort of emphasis on harmonies and a softer feeling that meshes well with the sometimes belted out talk sing lyrics of Argos. Art Brut guitarist Ian Catskilkin also helped play off of the keyboard melodies and at times played drums to give the tracks a faster sort of kick.

Whether Argos is fronting Art Brut or the more conceptual based Everybody Was in the French Resistance…Now!, you never want the set to inevitably end.  Though this particular set lasted for around 50 solid minutes, it felt more like fifteen with all the fun the audience was having. Other highlights included a play off of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, it’s All Right” called “Think Twice (It’s not Alright)” that evolved into a surprisingly epic U2 refrain “With or Without You,” an encore where he told Avril Lavigne to stop stalking him “G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N. (You Know I’ve Got A),” and of course, “The Scarborough Affaire.”