ALBUM REVIEW – “MoBaDi Lives!” by Morning Banana Diet

Alright time for an album review designed to get press to a tiny hometown band that otherwise definitely wouldn’t get any. Morning Banana Diet have adorned the Hagerstown music scene since 2011, honing and giddily crafting what can best be called “progressive punk” for those who dare enter their airspace. The wild and scattered influences the 5 members bring to the band’s sound cannot be summarized in words. It can however, be wrapped up quite nicely with the group’s debut full length MoBaDi Lives! 

Music that has songs that greet the listener with “Hi welcome to planet Mars, I hope you’re enjoying your stay today. Now would you please enter this room so we can turn you into zombie aliens so you can take over the Earth for us?” (Marsegeddon,which is about exactly what it sounds like) is obviously for a select group of people with a certain musical taste. It’s weird, out of the box, off putting even for those non-acclimated, but there is so much in store for the non-casual listener.

The selling point-can a punk band have a selling point, is that allowed?  How many rules would that break?  Is that DIY?-Is how diverse the MBD sound is. On one hand you have straightforward nasty punk jams like the opening Rock and Roll Rising, or the “is this a Pinkerton b-side?” American Activities; which dumps into the dark and brooding middle of the album. Car Crash, which was probably cowritten with Old Gray (either that or Thursday, haven’t confirmed yet, still waiting on the email) sits on the other end of the spectrum. Caleb Whitmore’s raw and driving vocals collide with the “I kinda want to be in a band that covers The Chariot and maybe Touche Amore” guitar work of Jacob Kimberley to amazing effect. There’s a startling amount of takes on the word “emotion” present, equal parts startling and impressive at how controlled it all feels.

The actual sound of the record is one thousand times more cohesive than ever before. Maybe it’s because MoBaDi is a concept album, or maybe it’s because MBD actually figured out a direction to head in, whether they know it or not. The addition of a bassist, as much sense as it most certainly made, aside, the writing on MoBaDi is not only solid and fluid, it’s also inclusive. Each band member speaks for themselves with their parts, while also working toward a greater whole. It’s a much less raucous album than previous MBD outings, more visceral and mature, not so much unbridled as intense.

There are just so many moments when it feels like everything comes together to make a song escalate from just another weird experiment to something rather surreal. Space Cat isn’t just a song, it’s a journey, led lyrically by David Rico’s eloquent poetry and propelled by the Mars Volta instrumentation. Broken Blocks pulls the same trick with it’s catastrophic Explosions In the Sky ending, this whole record just unfurls and unfolds at the right pace to create something very very unreal.

All these band name drops aren’t meaningless, Morning Banana Diet is a cornucopia of countless influences that are just now, on MoBaDi Lives! coming together, the comparisons are simply inevitable because of how well they are wielded and how brightly they shine through. Previous MBD records were the foundation of the sound present on MoBaDi. That sound, whatever title you may choose to give it, is awesome, gone are the wild flourishes and gags, welcome a group of musicians who know how to make something both eclectic and powerful. Well done gentlemen.



Max Robison

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