When I first came across the new single from Norfolk’s own Major & The Monbacks this past November while previewing their Thanksgiving show at the Norva, I couldn’t help but notice a new level of confidence in the band’s songwriting.
The self-assured message of the chorus followed by a cryptic Facebook post teasing “MAJOR news” on the horizon had me speculating that the band was set for some serious trajectory in 2017. Sure enough, while on tour to SXSW this past March, Monbacks announced their signing with Yep Roc Records for their sophomore album Moonlight Anthems – set for release on June 16. And now, to celebrate the occasion they’ve teamed up with LAVA Presents and Bold Mariner Brewing Co. to bring Hampton Roads a full-blown throwdown on June 17th for the 2nd Annual Monback Block Party followed by a coast-to-coast tour of the United States (tour dates below).
For those unfamiliar with Major And The Monbacks, the band’s sound is derived from a musical pedigree dating back three generations to founding members Cole and Neal Friedman’s grandfather who owned Birdland Music on Church Street. While in that location the store served the neighborhood as a hub for Norfolk’s soul, jazz, and R&B scenes before relocating in 1978 to its current Virginia Beach location.
Listening to the debut album from the 6-piece you’ll hear inherited styles from classic 60s and 70s benchmarks – jangle pop intertwined with epic horn sections, three-part Crosby Stills and Nash harmonies from the band’s singer-songwriters right into psychedelic and even progressive rock breakdowns. Monbacks’ strength rests in its attention paid to UK/US rock ‘n roll history and its ability to glide effortlessly amongst the lessons learned.
Having hit the studio this time around with Richmond, VA’s Montrose Recordings and Matthew E. White at the production helm, the band hits cruise control on this formula for the upcoming album with even smarter hooks. Expect more creative reinvention of those familiar golden sounds that the boys grew up on and love so dearly. The recently released title track “Moonlight Anthems” gives you a glimpse into what the album holds. Check it out on Spotify and Youtube.
As far as the festivities are concerned, June 17th will mark the release party for Moonlight Anthems at Bold Mariner Brewing Co. for the 2nd Annual Monback Block Party with a lineup that includes fellow Norfolk natives Ladada along with regional acts Rikki Shay (Richmond, VA), Gold Connections (Charlottesville, VA), and Evolfo (Brooklyn, NY). Ladada is busy tracking away at The Garden [Recording Studio] in anticipation of a new release of their own and will bring their own brand of summer fun in the sun. Gold Connections has been lighting up stages across both coasts ushering in a new era of garage rock with the likes of fellow William & Mary alums Car Seat Headrest. Evolfo damn near broke the stage at Toast a few months ago when they kicked out the jams so hard at LAVA Minifest and will have a new full-length album of their own that they’re touring. Rikki Shay is formerly known as Black Girls, one of Virginia’s biggest bands of the last half decade… a preview from their current album tells me they will provide a sweet and soulful soundtrack perfect for swaying and sipping a summer brew.
I know with a lineup brought together by The Monbacks themselves and LAVA Presents that we’re all set for a blowout day of music. Says Josh Coplon of LAVA Presents: “Working with the Monbacks brings out a different kind of excitement for me. We’ve been working together, in one form or another, for literally 10 years and to be able to help bring to life what will likely be the biggest day of their blossoming career so far, is really just an honor. My excitement continues with the rest of our lineup from start to finish. June 17th is going to be an incredible day!”
Stay up to date with Major and the Monbacks via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and check out their first nationwide headlining tour below. Always onward and upward for the Majors, who still manage to come on back to Norfolk for a good time every once in awhile. Tickets and show info available here: majorandthemonbacks.com/tour