December 10, 2003

New Harmony Indiana "Parlour Music"

My dear readers, I am going to confess something to you, and I hope and pray that you do not hold this admission against me. Please don't use it against me in a court of law, this confesion is just between me and thee, and I'm trusting you to keep it close to your chest, and that you carry it with you for all your days. It's one that is especially true in the case of New Harmony Indiana.

I like music that is funny.

(I can imagine my credibilty going down the drain with that one.)

Why is it that a dang sense of humor is something to be ashamed of? Ladies and gentlemen, I really do not understand why people in this underground music environment that we are all trapped in do not understand that laughing and having a good time in an irony-free environment is NOT A BAD THING. Why must you stand there with your arms folded, a dour frown planted on your face, and just this whole laughable po-faced attitude that will not allow you to crack a smile? You aren't Morrissey, you aren't Thom Yorke, you only own their records, so will you pack up that piss-poor attitude of yours and just LAUGH every now and then, and ENJOY music that's fun and funny? (I'd rather hear Roger Miller than Morrissey ANY day. Wouldn't you?)

See, New Harmony Indiana is one of the funniest records I've heard all year. Don't get me wrong, I'm not laughing at Jeff Krajewski, because I don't think that his band is a joke one, but I do feel as if you have to listen to Parlour Music with a sense of humor, because, well...if you take anything too seriously, you won't like it--even though you think you might. Such is double the case with New Harmony Indiana--if you're not careful, you could be put off on the first listen, and that would be a shame.

I don't see any of that nasty 'irony' in New Harmony Indiana's game, but what I do see is a young man who's got a lot of musical inspirations and he's not afraid to use them. Imagine a drunken mix of lounge music, pop music, adult-contemporary and lite jazz, thrown together in the hands of an ex-goth crooner who suddenly went straight when he learned of the magic of singing to aging hipsters and their beards, and you'll be close to appreciating Parlour Music. On the surface, you could easily be put off by Jeff Krajewski's voice--it's like an unholy alliance between Bryan Ferry and Nick Cave, and if you don't have a sense of humor, then you're more likely than not going to hit the 'off'' button and go, "JOSEPH, WHAT IS THIS GAWDAWFUL POO THAT YOU'RE SO HYPED ABOUT???"

But, you see, that's the great thing about Parlour Music. The more you listen to it, the more you realize that, OH MY GOODNESS, these guys are serious! The silly jazz stylings of "City Of Lost Children" and "I'm Troubled" might make you laugh, but when you get down to it, those songs aren't silly--they're utterly sincere, and you shouldn't write these guys off as a novelty act. But, then again, how could you not like New Harmony Indiana? They've put a smile on my face and have made me laugh today--a day when a laugh was exactly what I needed.

Though it's sad that humor in music isn't appreciated by most music listeners, that doesn't hurt New Harmony Indiana none. These kids have impressed me, they've impressed folks at NPR, and they'll impress you if you allow them to. Seek this one out, my friends, because you'll be impressed, you'll be amused, you'll be wowed (especially with their lounge version of a Ministry hit), and, best of all, you'll add a few minutes onto your pathetic little too-serious lives--if you still remember how to laugh. Parlour Music is such a fun record.

You remember what 'fun' is, don't you?

--Joseph Kyle

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