Review: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – Country

Review: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – Country

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – Country
Track Listing:
1. Sunshine
2. Far Away
3. Country
4. Get Me Through
5. Kids In The Square
6. Healing
7. In These Times
8. New Speedway Boogie
9. Love You More
10. All Night Music

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: January 31st, 2012
Record Label: Controlled Substance Sound Labs
Official Website: G.P.G.D.S’s Website

Group Background:
Based in Rochester, NY, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad are the road warriors of reggae-rock. Their PR boasts 767 concerts since the release of their debut album Slow Down. As loyal fans know, every GPGDS concert is a unique experience, rife with extended improvisation and dub fireworks courtesy of sound engineer Joel Scanlon. The band recently upgraded to five-piece with the addition of long-time friend Dan Keller on guitar.

Album Review:
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad went country. I was confused at first, but it’s not really that weird. Both reggae and country are distinctly American brands of music, concentrated on folklore and populist themes (it’s not difficult to imagine Woody Guthrie writing the lyrics to “Get Up, Stand Up”). Laid back and mid-tempo’d, both styles were bred in warm Atlantic climates and are typically understood as music “by the people, for the people, of the people.”

But enough about that, let’s talk about Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad’s Country. If you don’t like country music to begin with, chances are you won’t be impressed by the Rochester reggae quintet. But if you’ve got an ear for twang and folk, GPGDS’s album is a special treat. According to the band it was “unplanned, fun, and real,” assembled from songs written on the road, born from cross-country tripping and late night backstage jams.

The album is a glimpse of modern America told in timeless Americana fashion. The themes and lyrics run deep with imagery borrowed from the Occupy movement of 2011 (still alive and well here in 2012). Youth in revolt on “Kids In The Square” meet Woody Guthrie-styled tidings of democracy on the title track, “Country,” as well as the uncertainty of love at a distance and the vagabond lifestyle.

These modern themes lean against a timeless musical background. GPGDS paints with a wide variety of acoustic folk instrumentation including slide guitar, banjo, harmonica and upright piano. Ultimately, all these strands – acoustic instrumentation, love separated by distance, civil disobedience – weave a tapestry of the 21st century American folk album. It’s traditional, but rooted in troubles and issues of the modern American.

Like a vintage photograph from the dust bowl, Country examines the lives of five young men roaming across America amidst a time of turmoil, struggle, and renewal. We’re caught in the formation of a new American renaissance, politically and spiritually, and GPGDS are with us each step of the way to soak it up, write it down and shout it back out.

Written & Reviewed by: Chris Castro

[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad’s official music video to “Kids In The Square”