By Julie Lawrence Special to Published May 05, 2006 at 5:24 AM

Describing a band as "country jazz gothic" to someone who has never heard it is about as helpful as saying that it is "experimental." Or "rock." Or "good."

Yet that genre-blurring description is the one that Matt Krajewski gave to his own band, New Harmony Indiana, and, for the most part, he's pleased with his decision.

"It is my best guess of our style," he says of the Milwaukee trio that also comprises fellow Hoosier Joe Vent (The Yell Leaders, Blue in the Face) and Brian Wendtlandt (Wooldridge Brothers, Tolstoi's Tricycle).

"Our most successful song to date, 'Sometimes,' is Latin-influenced jazz. Our new stuff is mostly old-time Americana and country. My writing tends to be pretty dark -- hence the Gothic. It's really hard for me to tell people what kind of a band this is, so 'country jazz gothic' is an approximation, but at least it's something to think about."

NHI's first full-length, "Parlour Music," came out in 2003 to both the joy of Krajewski's fans -- he had previously done time with The Yell Leaders and The Joker's Henchmen -- and to the bewilderment of reviewers.

"It was very well received, but (reviewers) had a real hard time explaining what we were. There is pop, Latin jazz, somber soul music, swamp blues, a Ministry cover."

The band's take on Ministry's "Stigmata" is reminiscent of a lounge act singer who wandered out -- suit, tie and martini in hand -- into the dusty streets of the old west to record the track, which is wisely cushioned between the haunting coo/growl harmony combination of "I'm Troubled," and the soft, ghostly moan of "I'm Not Afraid Of You."

While "Parlour Music" was like a half hour tour of an eclectic album collection, the band's new material -- more than an album's worth of new songs slated for an early summer '06 release -- is, according to Krajewski, "easier to describe."

"We've taken a bit of a new musical direction. We're sounding quite a bit more country than the first disk. The shift to country has happened for a couple of reasons. My buddy Otis Gibbs has had a big influence on my writing in the last couple of years. He is a great singer-songwriter from Indianapolis. I highly recommend his stuff to anyone.

"Also, I wrote a bunch of the songs after my grandmother passed away last year. She was from French Lick, Ind. The new style comes from her and French Lick. I spend a fair amount of time there. A few of the songs are about her and dealing with losing her. It's not all death and dying, but it's all about real people and struggles. I am very excited about it and proud of these songs."

The new material will more than likely make an appearance when New Harmony Indiana takes the stage on Saturday, May 6 at Arbor Pub and Grill at 6 p.m. The show is smoke-free and family-friendly.

The band's Web site is

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”