Boy with a Fish | Birds Fly Backwards

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Rock: Modern Rock Rock: Americana Moods: Mood: Brooding
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Birds Fly Backwards

by Boy with a Fish

Members of The Horse Flies, Natalie Merchant's band, Laurie Anderson's band, & Plastic Nebraska create indie alt-rock with quirky, poetic lyrics & a percolating beat. Dark, artful music, sometimes edgy and sometimes hauntingly beautiful.
Genre: Rock: Modern Rock
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sometimes
4:53 $0.99
2. Plastic Raincoat
5:46 $0.99
3. Out Into the Empty
4:39 $0.99
4. Boxers
4:29 $0.99
5. Birds Fly Backwards
5:23 $0.99
6. Wait For Me
3:47 $0.99
7. Poppies
4:59 $0.99
8. Glasses
5:40 $0.99
9. Basement
5:22 $0.99
10. People Go Under
6:04 $0.99
11. Red Sparrow Bridge
5:11 $0.99
12. In the Rain
1:25 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Claus' voice sounds like the product of a masterful combination of the best parts of Neil Young and Michael Stipe ...and there is an eerie ambience created chiefly by the electric violin and the accordion ...addictively groovable ...the quirkiness is endearing ...and the end result is signature, edgy, and big-time hip. Aspects of Boy bring to mind bands like Talking Heads, The Pixies, X, and P.J. Harvey, but they can't be pigeon-holed. Very intelligent, very original material, made possible by hot players with a unique vision and perspective. This CD is cooler than the other side of the pillow." -- Overground Magazine

"If you have an affinity for quirky Americana with a hushed but hauntingly powerful electric shiver, you should seek out Boy with a Fish's gripping new album, Birds Fly Backwards. ...Claus sings in a reedy plea that souhnds like a keening hybrid of Freedy Johnston, Jules Shear, and David Byren, while the band...offers a dustily expansive soudntrack of melodic melancholy, airily suggesting the electric pop texture of Talking Heads and the authentic crackle of 16 Horsepower." -- Amplifier Magazine

From the collegetown of Ithaca, NY, Boy with a Fish plays alt-folk-rock with quirky, poetic lyrics and a percolating beat. They weave dark, artful music sometimes edgy and sometimes hauntingly beautiful. Boy with a Fish is: Jeff Claus (electric guitars and vocals), Judy Hyman (electric violin, viola, and vocal), Rick Hansen (accordion and moog), Jay Olsa (bass), and, on the CD, Ben Wittman (drums & percusssion). Ryan Cady is now the regular drummer for the band.

Claus and Hyman are founding members of the once major-label Horse Flies, about whom Rolling Stone said, "A band that's earned a buzz. They churn out swirling, addictive songs, blending tradition with invention." The Flies have a new CD out, "Until the Ocean," also available at CD Baby,

Claus and Hyman have toured extensively in the U.S., Canada, and Europe and have composed music for four feature films, starring such actors Martin Sheen, Rip Torn, Michael J. Fox, and others. They've also composed music for 4 television documentaries that have aired nationally and PBS. Claus' music has been used on MTV by Rock the Vote; by Oliver Stone in his film, "Any Given Sunday"; by Natalie Merchant (live and on record); and by Fiery Furnaces (live and on record). Claus has also been featured in an article in Acoustic Guitar magazine. Critics and fans have referred to Counting Crows, Talking Heads/David Byrne, Neil Young, REM, and PJ Harvey to describe the band and Claus' plaintive singing/songwriting.

Hyman has toured and recorded with Natalie Merchant, most recently in August 2008. One of Claus and Hyman's songs, Sally Ann, is the opening track on Merchant's CD, "The House Carpenter's Daughter," (this also appears on Merchant's "Retrospective" album), and Merchant and band (including Hyman) performed this song on the David Letterman Show, August 2004.

Rick Hansen and Jay Olsa are both members of Plastic Nebraska, a notable Ithaca band that critics have called "exotic, entrancing, hypnotic, and inventive." Ben Wittman (drums and percussion) has played with Laurie Anderson, Paul Simon, Paula Cole, Don Byron, and many others. Additional musicians on the CD are: Erik Della Penna (guitar) and Elizabeth Steen (organ) of Natalie Merchant's band; Robbie Aceto (guitar) formerly of Tom Tom Club; and Billy Coté (guitar) of Madder Rose and Saint Low.

Additional Quotes about Birds Fly Backwards:

"The CD is beautifully colored by the plaintive voice of Claus, the violin of Hyman, and the accordion of Hansen, and the lyrics are intelligently poetic, giving substance for reflection. Boy with a Fish create a great blend that's both Americana and their own." Rootstime, Belgium

"With a smooth alternative rock sound and introspective and free-flowing lyrics, Boy with a Fish conjures up thoughts of the best of works by bands like Counting Crows and musicians like PJ Harvey." -- The Ithaca Times

"...a moody blend of folk-rock and Americana tha conjures up images of collapsed barns along the highways of the rural north -- four stars." -- The All Music Guide

"Well worth the wait, Birds Fly Backwards captures the band's edgy but rootsy sound on 12 memorable songs that feature Claus' distinctively quirky lyrics, Judy Hyman's keening violin runs, and Rick Hansen's accordion riffs, anchored by the rhythm section of bassist Jay Olsa and drummer Ben Wittman." -- Ithaca Journal

More quotes about Claus and Hyman and The Horse Flies:

Much like Talking Heads in its early days, the Horse Flies combine musical and lyrical quirkiness with beguiling wit and intelligence on their second album, "Gravity Dance." Chief lyricist Jeff Claus may sing "I've tried psychotherapy, TV and beer / But sometimes I still feel like Van Gogh's left ear" one moment, but a few songs later he's tackling more serious concerns. Musically, "Gravity Dance" is a mélange of rock, folk, and minimalism, all held together by Judy Hyman's haunting violin and a glove tight rhythm section. This is music that challenges the brain without sacrificing the groove.
Dan Kening, Chicago Tribune

On their excellent "Gravity Dance" album, the Horse Flies have crafted a rubbery art-rock sound that suggests Civil War music as interpreted by Talking Heads, especially in songs sung by guitarist Jeff Claus. Live, the eccentric folk-rock group rocks even harder. The Horse Flies appeal to both the head and the feet.
Paul Robicheau, The Boston Globe

The Horse Flies suffer an attack of the twentieth-century blues on their arresting sophomore album. "Gravity Dance" works because of the prickly emotions contained in the material. The Flies are very good players, too, dedicated to a punchy, coherent band groove. Hyman, on violin, teams with keyboardist Peter Dodge to create woozy roller-coaster effects; Stearns and Claus play their guitars like percussionists, jabbing rather than massaging the melodies. Even when aiming for laughs, The Horse Flies rub your nose in somebody else's weirdness -- and they do it great. Are we having fun yet?
Jon Young, Musician Magazine

It's early in the year, but it's hard to imagine a show surpassing the diverse, remarkable one The Horse Flies gave at Peabody's Down Under in the Flats Sunday night in their Cleveland debut. ... music of astonishing centrifugal force ... breathtakingly complex rhythms ... unexpectedly rich textures ... stunningly modern ... gravity and grace ... Their ancient, yet modern sound and their easy, seemingly limitless energy make The Horse Flies special.
Carlo Wolff, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland

The textures are a blend of the ancient and the ultra modern. Realism coexists with surrealism, and synthetics and acoustics are interwoven. A record of dark brilliance.
Dave Jennings, Melody Maker, London

Brilliantly peculiar -- new music with gnarled and twisted roots.
Daniel Gewertz, The Boston Herald




to write a review

Steve Baker

Unexpectedly engaging
It all revolves, IMHO, around the excellent fiddle playing of Judy Hyman, formerly of the Horse Flies. She keeps that crypto-celtic drone skirling around the monotone-ish vocals and spare acoustic accompaniment. The music just keeps pushing; gently but insistently. I really like it!