Major & The Monbacks
by Carly Shields
Major and the Monbacks are the 60’s rock inspired, yet uniquely 2015 band the Appalachian jam scene has been waiting for. Recollecting universal favorites like The Band, The Beatles, and Van Morrison, while pulling from timeless genres like Motown, big-band jazz, soulful rock with a funk flare, the Monbacks’ music is a celebration of all things past, present, and future. With 3 different writers and singers rotating in front of an 8-piece ensemble, including a full horn section and percussion, their sound stays lively and fresh, yet still pays respects to the origins.
The first track off their debut self-titled, full length album, “I Can Hardly Wait” is the perfect opener because it’s instantly Beatles-y, but in a very modern way. George Martin would have been proud of that track, not just for the extra production value, but the raw musicianship. “Somedays” is the radio hit, the big sound that comes to define Major and the Monbacks. It’s got funk, it’s got horns, it’s got harmonies and great lyrics- not much more a music fan could ask for. Track 3, “Annabelle,” is pouring with passion and genuine emotion. This song is the comforting yet exciting love song that can easily be compared to The Band’s “Ophelia,” but with a little something different to offer. By the fourth song, the Monback’s original sound really starts to take the center stage. “Don’t Say a Word” is a one-two punch straight to the point that could undoubtedly be a peaking closer for a phenomenal live set. “She Don’t Knock,” number 5 on the Nashville-recorded album, is the first ballad-feeling track, a little slower and more pleading but still with the support of those 8 solid instruments. On “Sunshine,” the harmonies are in the spotlight as they drive the song forward followed by the ever-building horn section. “Be My Baby” could be heard playing in a gymnasium for a group of swing dancers in poodle skirts, that’s how spot-on 60’s-70’s it is, and the sound is more than welcome as other bands seem to have forgotten this kind of bebop-y jazz rock. “Magnolia,” at track 8, might initially be interpreted at the “breather” song, but the Monbacks don’t plan on letting one slip away without their special touch. The vocals are praise-worthy, as is the way they build the song up from the ground, adding layer after layer until the climax that brings the song to a close. As the album winds down itself, “Fool” also takes a more relaxing approach and allows the guitars to take the lead with soaring solos and ripping riffs.
So as not to forget what they’re all about, the Monbacks bring the theoretical house down with their last track “I Do.” It’s a summation of what the band is about- powerful horns, passionate vocals, inspiring lyrics, and the support of a loving family band where everyone gets their time to shine. “Major and the Monbacks” will be released on May 12, just a few weeks into their 5 month tour of the East Coast where fans can hear all this new material and experience the Monbacks live.