New Harmony Indiana,
Parlour Music
(Box Office Poison, 2003)

Sometimes listening to indie music is as difficult as trying to find a decent song on commercial radio. It's the gems you discover that make the search worthwhile. For me, Parlour Music is one of those gems.

This is quite a low-key effort. Upright bassist Matt Krajewski's vocals are understated, as are the instruments of Joe Vent (guitar, banjo and lap steel) and Jeff Krajewski (drums and percussion), the background vocals of Stephanie Dosen and those of various other players including fiddle and keyboards.

Spooky is an appropriate word, not in the sense of gothic, but because some of the songs are in the minor keys and have mysterious lyrics. Many of the titles reinforce this; for example, "Stigmata," "I'm Not Afraid of You," "Scars" and "I'm Troubled."

As is often true of the best indie work, this CD is not easy to classify, and different listeners will hear different things. I would disagree with the band's website calling it "an exhilarating mix of Latin dance, industrial jazz, moaning hillbilly ballads and a few pop-rock tunes." I think that the CD IS exhilarating, but not because of its high energy. The only song that seems to fit the genres in the above list is "Waterin' Hole," and even that is quite far from anything you would ever hear at a bluegrass festival.

I could imagine these atmospheric songs sung in French, in a smoky Paris back-alley bistro. Matt Krajewski's accordion on a few cuts brings out this flavor. Only four other words come to mind -- quirky, beautiful and highly recommended.

- Rambles
written by Dave Howell
published 24 January 2004