Record Review: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
Rochester, NY
(Controlled Substance Sound Labs)

“Jammy rock and Dead-inspired Americana”

A bit of twang has long shown itself in the jam-based pop reggae of Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad.  However, the group ups the down-home ante in its newest album, Country, which most certainly lives up to its name.  These Yankees pass for good ol’ boys on this collection of blues-laden tracks featuring sliding guitars, honky tonk pianos, and simple lyrics sung in smooth harmonies (and maybe with a twinge of an accent?).  One could easily compare the album to when Grateful Dead took a turn toward country; Giant Panda even makes the inspiration apparent, covering “New Speedway Boogie.” [Editor’s note – great cover]

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The band jams about the usual suspects: love, the power of music, groovin’ out.  The song “Healing” calls for listeners to dance the blues way, citing music’s cathartic properties.  “Love You More” is an especially beautiful track, a passionate, pleading love song.  The group showcases some of their political ideals, especially on “Kids in the Square,” which asks all of us to get involved in the fight for human rights; “We gotta get moving ‘cause the movement’s been slow,” the group croons, “and it takes everybody.”

It’s certainly refreshing when a band chooses to showcase its musical diversity.  It takes courage and faith to delve from what it has always done.  And after going country, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad will take another hard right with an electronic album out this spring.

Produced by Seth Herman and Curtis Bergesen

Engineered by Joel Scanlon

Mixed by Billy Hume

Mastered by Colin Leonard at Glenn Schick Mastering

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