Review: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – In These Times

Review: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – In These Times

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – In These Times
Track Listing:
1.) Change You
2.) All Night Music
3.) World War
4.) Love You More
5.) Next Best Explosion
6.) Pockets
7.) Healing
8.) Far Away
9.) Moonshine
10.) Foundation
11.) Family Sake
12.) In These Times

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: April 10, 2012
Record Label: Controlled Substance Sound Labs
Produced By: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
Official Website: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad’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’s latest album, In These Times, is a smokey piece of psychedelic reggae with an eye set on deep grooves and easy vibes. Long time fans will recognize several of the tracks from GPGDS’s live show, and, I’m happy to report that in the studio the tracks still shine bright.

Which, I really have to say is what worried me going into this album. I’ve seen GPGDS live countless times and always loved it, but I wasn’t sure how their jammy, organic approach would sit in the studio. Thankfully, the band hits all the right marks, though ultimately, the album does just make me want to go see the band live.

It’s a great album, no question, but after each listening, I don’t really feel entirely satisfied. I enjoyed what I heard, but it’s not the same feeling as stepping out of a crowded club reeking of smoke and beer, staring at a bright moon with amplified echoes still ringing in your head.

But, then again, should this album be like that? While pondering the subject, I came to look at In These Times slightly differently in relation to GPGDS’s other material. The band’s live albums, the masterful Live Up Vol. I & II, were like photo albums, catalogs of snapshots from the band’s treks across the United States. In These Times, on the other hand, is closer to a portrait. It’s refined and elegant, all the strokes thought-out, everything snugly fit in the right place.

Whereas the band’s live show was always propelled by the reckless joy of improvised music, In These Times cedes power to thoughtful consideration and deep meditation. Every note sounds deliberate, every grain of delay understood, and every washing layer of organ and guitar reverb occupies its own rightly deserved spot in the musical spectrum.

Equilibrium…yes, that’s what they found here. In These Times is the first chance fans of GPGDS have had in years to hear the band in a state of electric equilibrium (not counting the recently released Country, of course), in a place where they can plan, improvise and revise according to their own will. They’re not just a jam band; they’re songwriters, producers and so much more.

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]