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Album Review

First things first: if the name of this band leads you to expect a sort of Chinese reggae sound with radical-socialist lyrics, abandon that idea. If the album title leads you to expect country music, then you're actually more on track — though even here, the reality is a bit more complicated. Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad use an instrumental lineup (guitar, fiddle, harmonica, banjo, bass, slide, drums) that makes them look, on paper, like something close to a bluegrass band. But the music they make is more like a roots rock fusion of country, Southern rock, and alt-Americana with the occasional sly insertion of psychedelia and, yes, reggae thrown in for fun. Some of the references are oblique: the vocals often evoke Jerry Garcia's strained tenor gruffness (especially on "Far Away" and on their live cover version of the Grateful Dead's "New Speedway Boogie"), and while "In These Times" uses the most explicitly reggae-based rhythmic pattern, "Healing" draws pretty explicitly on the lyrical themes of classic roots reggae. Overall, though, the mood here is a weird sort of stoner-country fusion: lots of long, discursive intros that feature resophonic slide guitar and harmonica, lots of high-lonesome harmony vocals, several deceptively laid-back calls to popular action ("Country," "Kids in the Square"). Aaron Lipp's slide playing is a highlight throughout.

Customer Reviews

new style

GOOD STUFF GPGDS!!! CHANGIN UP THE PACE With the banjo and country/reggae stylie....makes me wanna drive up PCH as far as it will take me...

Amazing

I have been a Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad fan for some time now, and when first reading the title of their newest album, I must admitt I was highly skeptical. However, listening to Healing, All Night Music and New Speedway Boogie just blew me away. I realized that when Country music is not promoting a right wing agenda, its actually not too bad. Taking a large part of old American musical culture, including the harmonica, slide guitar solos, and banjo fingerstyle, and combining it with the obvious chill and good vibes that come from almost any regge band was in my personal opinion the first truely original and musically ingenious idea that I have witnessed in quite some time. Bravo dudes, well done!

Country is fresh! What can't this band do?

I've been a Giant Panda fan for many years. They put on a killer live show and blend all sorts of styles of music. "Country" is a great example of how talented these guys are. Instead of their usual reggae-jam sound, they've dropped something completely different- a mix of roots, bluegrass, folk, americana, acoustic goodness. In this day and age where everything sounds the same and is unoriginal, its refreshing to hear a band that can play a wide variety of different musical styles and genres. Some of my favorite tracks on this album are Far Away, Country, Kids In The Square, and Healing. But all 10 tracks are great and I usually just listen to the album straight through, on repeat. Thank you GPGDS!

Biography

Formed: 2001 in Rochester, NY

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '00s, '10s

In some ways, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad are the live dub version of the Grateful Dead, mixing traditional American folk and country with Jamaican reggae and dub rhythms, with plenty of improvisational jams and interludes, all while looking and sometimes sounding like a bluegrass band. Toss in just a little of the Clash, and it's a balancing act that made this uplifting and energetic group a huge draw on the jam band circuit. Formed in 2001 in Rochester, New York, Giant Panda grew out of a fertile...
Full Bio
Country, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
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