Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad (PANDA!) is a quintet from Rochester, NY. Their psychedelic roots reggae album “In These Times” made iTunes Best of 2012 list. Over the past six years, PANDA! has performed 800 shows, put out a collection of live albums, and released a roots Americana record titled “Country” (2012).
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For over six years, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad’s live show has defined the band. Touring relentlessly, the Rochester, NY-based group is sustained by its passion to reinterpret, explore, and expand its music night after night.
After the 2006 release of their debut album, Slow Down, GPGDS hit the road and never looked back. In April 2012, they released their first electric studio album in six years, In These Times. This is the quintet’s second release on the California-based label Controlled Substance Sound Labs.
In These Times consists of 12 tracks that showcase Giant Panda’s psychedelic reggae sound. Bassist James Searl, guitarist Dylan Savage, and guitarist Dan Keller trade off songwriting and lead vocal duties, with backup vocals provided by drummer Chris O’Brian, and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Lipp. The album was mixed by Atlanta-based producer Billy Hume (Nas, STS9, Ludacris, Josh Ritter), and dubbed by the band’s long-time engineer Joel Scanlon.
In These Times explores a variety of emotions and themes, from the feel good, sing along vibe of “Change You,” to the political anthem “Pockets.” Guests on the album include Hawaii’s The Green, contributing backup vocals on “All Night Music,” and John Brown’s Body’s horn section on “Next Best Explosion,” and “Healing.” “I think it would be fair to say that this is the album that long-time Panda fans have been waiting for” says Chris O’Brian.
In These Times follows the bands’ lyrically-driven roots Americana album, Country (released January 31, 2012). Combining acoustic instrumentation including slide guitar, banjo, harmonica, upright piano, percussion, and bass,Country showcases songs as they were first created: on the road, riding in the van, and jamming backstage. “Like early Wilco, with a healthy powdering of the stuff that made Gram Parsons’ music so deeply moving, “Country” is a gorgeous collection of Americana ditties.” – The Buffalo News
James Searl: Bass, Vocals
Chris O’Brian: Drums, Vocals
Dylan Savage: Guitar, Vocals
Dan Keller: Guitar, Vocals
Tony Gallicchio: Keys
“The band’s five masterful musicians weave layers of complex music within a reggae framework and may be one of the most diverse bands in the genre.” –JamBase
“On their newest album Country, Giant Panda unplug the dub machines and pour out their souls on a special collection of songs that reveal the true heart of this band. It is acoustic roots music at its finest, and it amounts to a major statement of purpose from a group who truly embody the spirit of their music.” – CBS Street Date
“Giant Panda sounds more than at home live onstage and the band knows it, filling the live set with musical segues and extended, improvised jams throughout the night. This spontaneous approach to a live performance, along with instrumental excursion, comes as no surprise considering the band has played 500 shows in the past three years alone.” –Reggae Movement
“Honestly, it’s as if GPGDS had always been a country band in the vein of, say, The Flying Burrito Brothers. Though the punch wasn’t quite the same – not better or worse, just different – the intensity and harmonic layering at the show was simply beautiful. This just furthers my prediction that this band is going to be huge.” – Rochester City Newspaper