Artist Spotlight

Review: Animal Years, “Sun Will Rise”

No Comments 10 September 2013

Review: Animal Years, “Sun Will Rise”

“Mike McFadden and the rest of the players in Animal Years have pieced a heartwarming, foot-stomping patchwork of textures and layers together stitched with a common thread.”

Artist: Animal Years

Album: Sun Will Rise

Genre: Alternative Roots Rock / Americana

RIYL: The Avett Bros, My Morning Jacket, The Hold Steady

Animal Years Sun Will Rise

Straight outta Brooklyn…it’s indie roots rock? After years of reviewing music, I really shouldn’t be surprised when something borne in Brooklyn feels more at home in middle America. From the opening strains of lead track “Meet Me,” it’s clear that Animal Years aren’t cut from any one definable cloth; consider it more of a patchwork. While the overall vibe of the music on Sun Will Rise is steeped with tinges of country, roots and wide open spaces, there is an elegant urban aesthetic at work as well.

The force behind Animal Years is guitarist/banjo player/singer Mike McFadden, and he has the vocal range and control that so many singers strive for. There’s an immediate accessibility and likability wrapped up in that tone - and it’s what gives the band an insane amount of pop/rock/country crossover potential. The aforementioned opening track is ready for airplay, as is the entire album giving credit to the production and pacing where it’s due. From an ingenuity standpoint, this doesn’t break rules or give us anything particularly new or experimental. But it does absolutely brim with beautiful melodies, vocal/instrumental interplay, and it’s just a damn pleasure to listen to.

“Heart on Heart” and “Rapture” move the momentum steadily forward, with the more aggressive and sonically rich “Let Go Of Your Head” highlighting the first half of the songs. This song feels like the first time we’re really tapping into the versatility and pitch-perfect delivery on the part of McFadden. When the guitar lines kick into the title track, it shimmers with the hope and light that you expect to see when you watch the sun rise up. It’s one of those moments when the promise of the song’s title lives up to the images the instrumentation paints for the listener.

“Worried Mind” moves steadily through another gorgeously paced vocal but then unexpectedly transitions to a really wonderful place. “Walking Slow” closes the album in fine fashion, giving us a head-bobbing beat and assured McFadden showing off that vocal range once again. This song, in particular, finds every player hitting on all cylinders and accomplishes its mission in getting you to hit the replay button.

Mike McFadden and the rest of the players in Animal Years have pieced a heartwarming, foot-stomping patchwork of textures and layers together stitched with a common thread. The vocals are warm, engaging and the musical crescendoes swell with just the right amount of restraint. Sun Will Rise is one of those records that stands out because of its consistency and potential - I’d love to hear how this collection of musicians progresses and pushes the limits of their songwriting in the future. But for the present, I’m going to pull that patchwork back over my ears and let the warmth sink back in again.

Animal Years website:

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