Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – Bright Days
1.) Trust In Time
2.) Humboldt County Gold
4.) Nothing Comes Easy
5.) It Won’t Be Long
6.) Good To You
7.) War Machine
8.) Just Like I Do
9.) Bright Days
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: May 18th, 2015
Record Label: Easy Star Records
Official Website: Giant Panda Website
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad (GPGDS), or simply Giant Panda, is the reggae-psychedelia-country-americana band from Rochester, New York. Formed in 2001, the band is comprised of bassist James Searl, drummer Chris O’Brian, Dylan Savage and Dan Keller on guitars and Tony Gallicchio on keys. Giant Panda has released a handful of albums, including Slow Down in 2006, followed by a couple live albums in 2010 and two more releases in 2012, Country and In These Times. 2014’s Steady impressively debuted at number 1 on Billboard, iTunes and Amazon reggae charts and was the band’s first release on Easy Star Records.
Giant Panda returns to their americana and country roots on Bright Days. The album is an impressive sequel to 2012’s Country, with influences that range from The Band, Grateful Dead, Hank Williams, John Prine and even the Avett Brothers. The album goes well outside the musical boundaries of rock-reggae. In fact, there is very little reggae or rock about Bright Days.
The album kicks off with “Trust in Time”, a country tune with Telecaster sounding twang and smooth slide guitar licks. G. Love lends his harp on “Humboldt County Gold”, which really pulls the song together. This tune has a laid back and smooth groove, along with a weed theme. Luckily, the tune isn’t the typical eye-rolling-weed-themed tune full of “good vibe” clichés.
The album continues with “Nothing Comes Easy” and “Good to You”. Giant Panda throws in a little bluegrass influence by adding banjo on both tracks and a mandolin solo on “Good to You” that would make David Grisman proud.
“War Machine” features some familiar reggae sounds, but Giant Panda cleverly arranged the tune with pedal steel and other country sounds—making “War Machine” a “country-reggae” track. Yes, I just said country-reggae.
Bright Days finishes up with “Just Like I Do” and title track “Bright Days”. Both tracks have a two-step country feel, Telecaster tones, catchy melodies and singable choruses.
Bright Days is very well done. The album is refreshing, accessible and demonstrates the band’s musical chops and diversity. For fans that know the band’s americana and county sides, Bright Days is nothing new—but, for those fans who don’t know Giant Panda’s “other side” they’re missing out. Bright Days (again) proves that Giant Panda can do what they want. Similar to G. Love’s jump into americana on Fixin’ to Die (2011) and Ben Harper’s success in both blues and gospel music, Giant Panda is similarly not afraid to explore their influences and create music that is reflective of these influences.
So, if you’re expecting reggae sounds, you’ll have to look elsewhere. If you’re expecting rock riffs, sustained keys or a one drop every handful of measures, you’re not going to hear it on Bright Days. But, if you are a listener in search of good music, regardless of genre, Bright Days is your album.
Written & Reviewed By: Kit Chalberg
[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]