Press Quotes

"Claus' voice sounds like the product of a masterful combination of the best parts of Neil Young and Michael Stipe. There is an eerie ambience created chiefly by the electric violin and the accordion. ...addictively groovable ...and the quirkiness is endearing ...the end result is signature, edgy, and big-time hip. I really like Olsa's bass playing: all pocket, sparse but not lacking. Claus' guitar style follows a similar agenda. It's almost like a tease, but it's all the material needs. Aspects of Boy bring to mind bands like Talking Heads, The Pixies, X, and PJ 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

"The album in no way disappoints, as it kicks off with 'Butter', a hooky, mid-tempo swirling rock piece that sets the tone for what's to come. Hypnotic rock grooves and splashes of vibrant color lift and dive ...effortless and enchanting - a real breath of fresh air to hear music so bewitching. The title track, 'I Put My Tongue on the Window,' is gloriously spacious with much more than a nod towards the mighty Talking Heads! I can almost imagine Byrne in his big suit doing a cover of this song and waving his arms around psychotically - it's hard for me to give a more fitting tribute. The hypnotism in this song is intense and mesmerizing! If you're not completely sold on this band by the time you hear it, then you never will be. ...Track 4 changes pace brilliantly with a gentle modulated electric guitar and keyboard slowly introducing 'You Took Me to The Opera.' Again, so much color, style, and substance...subtle vocal harmonies are well placed and the sustained and echo-drenched lead guitar work is reminiscent of Pink Floyd. The atmosphere is incredible. These songs are world class, and they have been brought to life by effortless production...This is up there with the very best of the material I've listened to this year, and I will definitely be on the lookout for future releases. Superb stuff!" ~ Neil Thomas in the Indie Music Digest

"I Put My Tongue On the Window is packed with driving, swirling grooves, and haunting atmospheres. Lyrically, the album is quirky and poetic, the kind of album that makes you want to sit and pour over the liner notes while you listen. The title track is powerfully and artfully urgent. ...tough drums, moog synth, electric guitar, and big reverb violin. ...Boy with a Fish cook up some edgy food for thought." ~ Round Magazine

"I work at the NPR radio station in Kansas City and just got an advance copy of your new CD - damn, kids. This works for me on all sorts of levels. Nice job! Driving, hooky indie rock - instant winner in my book. The title track sounds like Steve Wynn meets the Black Angels, and this is a very good thing." ~ Michael Byars, KCUR

"It's not necessary for you to know that Boy with a Fish is an offshoot of the Horse Flies, the much heralded Ithaca, NY twisted folk/rock outfit. But 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. The heart and soul of BwaF mirrors the Horse Flies' creative engine of vocalist/guitarist Jeff Claus and violinist/vocalist Judy Hyman. Claus sings in a reedy plea that sounds like a keening hybrid of Freedy Johnston, Jules Shear and David Byrne, while the band (fleshed out by Plastic Nebraska's Rick Hansen and Jay Olsa and, on this recording, Laurie Anderson drummer Ben Wittman) offers a dustily expansive soundtrack of melodic melancholy, airily suggesting the electric pop texture of Talking Heads and the authentic crackle of 16 Horsepower. From the shimmering opening strains of "Sometimes," with all the noir-ish menace of a Stan Ridgway short story/song ("Losing hair since I was twelve/and I think my car wants to hurt me/I can see it standing there/It's unsettling me..."), Boy with a Fish makes a deep impact with the simplest instrumentation and the sparsest arrangement. Birds Fly Backwards is quietly compelling and, with any luck, Boy with a Fish will enjoy the same longevity and accolades as their lauded parent band. ~ Amplifier Magazine

"Upstate New York can be a lonely place. Somewhere between the Pennsylvania border and the Finger Lakes the seasoned traveler comes to the realization that he has entered into the mouth of H.P. Lovecraft's New England, and is at the mercy of the pines -- Ithaca's Boy With a Fish's debut record is that trip's soundtrack. Guitarist/songwriter Jeff Claus and violinist Judy Hyman have been mining the rich veins of the region's sepia-toned melancholy since the 1980s as members of the eclectic Gothic-folk-rock outfit the Horseflies, and revisit many of the themes and styles that made their previous incarnation so invigorating -- "People Go Under" was originally released instrumentally as the main theme on the Horseflies' soundtrack to Where the Rivers Flow North. Although Hyman's manic fiddling is more refined here, and Claus' spooky banjo uke is nowhere to be found, the 12 songs embrace the duo's long history of innovative arrangements and minor-chord majesty with an elegance that's both chilling and heartwarming. The beautiful opener, "Sometimes," is like a walk through an abandoned main street. It's deceptive simplicity aches with a lethal combination of nostalgia and regret, warmed only by the toasty glow of Rick Hansen's accordion. "Plastic Raincoat" inhabits the murky netherworld between the end credits to a horror film and a bonfire singalong, lurching like a midnight prowler against a rhythm section that somehow manages to fuse backwoods roots-rock with reggae. Lyrically, Claus is fascinated by imagery, and his stream-of-consciousness delivery makes lines like "Violins and gasoline/walk on water in between" resonate for no other reason than his conviction of their undeniable truth -- that the band plays like a single organism doesn't hurt either. Observational tales of neighborhood loneliness ("Out Into the Empty") and irreverent narratives about aging ("Glasses") carry beneath them a sense of deep emotional attachment that makes their bittersweet protagonists all the more poignant. When Claus sings "I've got pencils and matches/in my pockets for you/I write you notes, then I burn them/then I send them to you" on the gorgeous "Red Sparrow Bridge," the arc of loneliness is rendered complete, leading the listener back where they started, ready to make the journey all over again." ~ James Christopher Monger, All Music Guide

"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 creates a great blend that's both Americana and their own." ~ Rootstime, Belgium

"With a smooth alternative rock sound and introspective, 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." ~ Ithaca Times

"Boy With A Fish play introspective, atmospheric music that falls somewhere between folk-rock and Their music is moody and intensely low-key, their lyrics off-kilter and at times superb: the title track is especially brilliant. I would think that those who like Freakwater, Hazeldine, or the Handsome Family would enjoy this as well." ~ customer review

"a moody blend of folk-rock and Americana that 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." ~ Jim Catalano, Ithaca Journal

"The music reminded me of Cowboy Junkies or the Counting Crows. Claus' lyrics...provide food for thought. ...The love song Red Sparrow Bridge is beautiful." ~ Altcountry (The Netherlands)

Quotes about The Horse Flies

"A band that's earned a buzz. They churn out swirling, addictive songs, blending tradition with invention." ~ Rolling Stone

"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 melange 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." ~ 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." ~ 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? ~ 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." ~ 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." ~ Melody Maker, London

"They gave a bizarre, entertaining performance. ... blending folk styles with the repetition of modern systems music. On their best and most startling song, I Live Where It's Gray, they mixed Claus' deadpan vocals with furious backing, to chilling effect. Any band that can switch from a song like this to the lyrical Rub Alcohol Blues and play for so long with such enthusiasm deserves more than a cult following." ~ The Guardian, London

"The Flies alternate uncomplicated body music with songs like the hit-potential cerebral funk of I Live Where It's Gray. There's one about throwing acid on dogs, this delivered in Claus' startled, Byrne-ish yelp; and a goose bump version of the nursery rhyme, Hush Little Baby, coming on like a child molester trying to quiet his prey. River's Edge territory, the darkness at the edge of town, so normal and so weird. ... a world without the Horse Flies' wholly unique music would be a much, much poorer place. ~ Melody Maker, London

"The Horse Flies decided that old-time string band music has something in common with the intricate minimal compositions, themselves African, Asian, American fusions, of Steve Reich -- an unlikely combination that pays off ...The Horse Flies have figured out how to hold a hoedown in a physics lab." ~ New York Times
"Brilliantly peculiar -- new music with gnarled and twisted roots." ~ Boston Herald

For more about The Horse Flies