NYC’s Animal Years Return with a Fiery Passion in “Talkin’ to You” & “White Flag”

Animal Years © Kelsey Runge
Animal Years © Kelsey Runge
An undeniably dynamic, feverish, and spirited rock revelry, Animal Years’ “Talkin’ to You” is a triumphant return to form for one of New York City’s most exciting acts.
for fans of Lucero, Young the Giant, Kings of Leon
Stream: “Talkin’ to You” – Animal Years




Staying power of any kind is laudable – especially if you’re a rock band in the 21st Century. While there might be a limit to how much pride we wear on our sleeves, everyone deserves the chance to celebrate their successes – even more so when there were those who didn’t believe in the cause. It’s with this in mind that Animal Years returned late last year with an undeniably dynamic, feverish, and spirited rock revelry. “Talkin’ to You,” the band’s first song release in over three years, is a triumphant return to form for one of New York City’s most promising and exciting groups.

They persevered despite the detractors, and here they are: Doing their thing, back and better than ever.

Talkin' to You - Animal Years
Talkin’ to You – Animal Years
Well I’m pickin’ it up
Every morning all I want to do is baby let you know
And when I finally did
Broke my heart and told me friends
was only far as we would go
And I could fake it
But it’s too late
And this love won’t let me be
It’s been so hard
To shake it
I hope time will set me free

Released November 13, “Talkin’ to You” signals the long-anticipated return of Brooklyn-based folk/indie rock band Animal Years. Their first release since 2017’s Far from Home EP, “Talkin’ to You” is an invigorating shout-out-loud anthem full of those charismatic, crunchy guitars and dramatic, harmony-laden vocals that have given Animal Years their gritty, signature folk rock-meets-alternative sound since their 2014 debut, Sun Will Rise.

Years ago now, Atwood Magazine praised Sun Will Rise‘s invigorating lead single “Meet Me,” writing: “Animal Years offer no-frills guitar-driven indie roots rock like that which you’ve never heard. Their timing and dynamics are superbly on point and their songs express complex emotions (moving on from love in “Meet Me”) in easy-to-digest musical settings. Not to mention, “Meet Me” is the perfect driving song. Pump up that car radio and drive off into the sunset with this killer track from Brooklyn’s most exciting rock up-and-comer.”

The years have been kind to Animal Years, which remains comprised of Mike McFadden (lead vocals, guitar), Anthony Saladino (bass), and Anthony Spinnato (drums). The trio have grown tighter and honed not only their songwriting skills, but also their production and arranging: “Talkin’ to You” is bigger than anything they’ve released to date – a dramatic, sweeping number with thick bass lines, strong percussive work, an impenetrable wall of guitars, and on top of everything, Mike McFadden’s expressive, aching vocals. He owns the spotlight throughout the song’s hearty chorus, spilling energy out through soulful swells and emotional lyrics that capture not just conviction and drive, but time-earned confidence:

Say to me the things I want
Had your chance you let me go
‘Cause you’re tied to these words that you own
So it’s time and I’m letting you know
That I’m talkin’ to you
I’m talkin’ to you, baby

“The song is based around that classic theme of ‘look at me now,’” McFadden tells Atwood Magazine. “I’ve always had supportive people in my life and l wanted to write a song for anyone who’s succeeded past someone else’s expectations. It’s a direct ‘F*** You’ to the person who didn’t believe in them and then came crawling back when they succeeded.”

“‘Talkin’ To You’ was our first foray into a real 100% pop song. I wanted a memorable tagline that the audience could easily identify even if they had never heard the song before. When we were on the road we would have fans who had never heard the song singing the chorus by the end of it. That was the goal.”

Animal Years © Kelsey Runge
Animal Years © Kelsey Runge

“Talkin’ to You” continues to rise and fall with groundswells of feeling and electric, euphoric verve. For listeners, it’s an opportunity to dwell in the moment, claim your wins, and embrace what you’ve got, when you’ve got it. There’s no better way to put it: “Talkin’ to You” is a celebration not just for Animal Years, but for all who turn up the volume and join in the unapologetic festivities.

Now you’re lookin’ me up
Tellin’ me you love me but that’s not the way the story goes
‘Cause I’m finally it
All the things you never thought I’d be so many years ago
And I could fake it
But it’s too late
And this love won’t let me be
It’s been so hard
To shake it
I hope time will set me free

While a three-year gap in music release might be seen as “punishable” by many a 2021 music publicist’s standards, Animal Years have been anything but quiet since 2017’s Far from Home. The band spent a great deal of 2018 on the road touring, which included an opening slot for Blues Traveler and a sold-out hometown show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. In 2019, the band recorded a new set of songs with GRAMMY-nominated producer Paul Moak in Nashville, but were soon after dropped from their label, eOne Records. 2020 found the band splitting time between Nashville and New York City – a distance made all the more difficult by the onset of the pandemic, which made further mixing, mastering, and all other plans that much more challenging. McFadden and Saladino – living in Nashville – went on to spend the 2020 summer participating in a 62-day occupation of the Tennessee state capitol protesting police brutality, which they describe as an intense experience and on that instilled in them a newfound sense of purpose.

“Once the occupation ended and the long-term realities of the pandemic started to sink in, we revisited all this music we’d been sitting on and decided it was time to get it out,” McFadden explains.

Thus arrives “Talkin to You,” the band’s first release and one of the tracks from their time with producer Paul Moak.

Say to me the things I want
Had your chance you let me go
‘Cause you’re tied to these words that you own
So it’s time and I’m letting you know
Well your love makes
Heartbreaks
Mistakes
Tearin’ at my soul
Ive spent too much
Time wasted on ya

In December, Animal Years rounded out a tumultuous and personally defining year with “White Flag,” a cover of the band Joseph’s song (taken off their 2016 studio album, I’m Not Alone, No You’re Not). Slow, visceral, and raw, their spellbinding performance is something of a counter-balance to the zeal displayed in “Talkin’ to You”: A soft, soothing, expressively sweet undertaking that retains Animal Years’ signature grit, albeit with a tender twist.

Your yelling’s getting loud
Keep it down now, keep it down now
There’s talk going ’round this town
Keep it down now, keep it down now
Noises closing in from all sides
Warning all the ways to die
They say “you’d better give up, you’d better give up”
I’ll be an army, no you’re
Not gonna stop me gettin’ through, ooh
I’ll sing a marching song and
Stomp through the halls louder than you, ooh
I could surrender but I’d
Just be pretending, no I’d
Rather be dead than live a lie
Burn the white flag
Burn the white flag

“We’ve been obsessed with Joseph since we first saw their Tiny Desk performance back in 2017. We’ve seen them live a bunch over the years and their songs have always meant a ton to us, especially ‘White Flag,'” McFadden says. “Over the years it’s taken on different meanings for us (which is sort of its brilliance, right? The way it molds itself to any situation. For better or worse it’s always timely, which is part of what makes it timeless) and there could be entire thought pieces on how apt the song is for anyone living through 2020.”

“There are a million reasons why we chose to do this song but the most significant and personal to us as a trio is a two-week-long period back in October. Having gotten dropped by our label after we had just finished recording new music back in 2019 and after parting ways with our manager, it’s been back to just the three of us for a while. Sidelined from the road with no new music in three years, we haven’t really been able to make any money this year and with two of us now in Nashville and the other in Brooklyn, it’s been a real struggle to figure out how to release these new songs during the pandemic with travel between Nashville and Brooklyn extremely difficult. Add onto that years of resentments built up between each other and communication breakdowns things kind of came to a head a couple months ago when we were all together for the first time in 9 months.”

Animal Years © Kelsey Runge
Animal Years © Kelsey Runge

Animal Years’ staying power doesn’t come out of the blue: It was hard-won – something they earned through sheer commitment, determination,  and love of their music. McFadden adds, “To put it bluntly, there were moments where we considered if this was the end of the road for the band. It was a hard, exhausting, emotional two weeks and we had to get brutally honest with ourselves and with each other about who we are and what we want. We ultimately were able to work through everything and realize how special this band is. Our last day together we went to Marathon Music Works and recorded our stripped down version of “White Flag” as our way of recommitting ourselves, to each other, and to our fans.”

Between the fiery “Talkin’ to You” and heartfelt “White Flag,” Animal Years have made one thing clear to their fans: The band is back, and ready for 2021. With more to come soon, this year promises to be an exciting one for Animal Years – and we can’t wait to come along for the ride.

Say to me the things I want
Had your chance you let me go
‘Cause you’re tied to these words that you own
So it’s time and I’m letting you know
That I’m talkin’ to you

In the meantime, join the band in the uncompromising, sunny seduction of “Talkin’ to You”: A song that shines bright for all to hear and feel in their bones.

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:: stream/purchase “Talkin’ to You” here ::
Stream: “Talkin’ to You” – Animal Years



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Talkin' to You - Animal Years

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📸 © Kelsey Runge

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