Throughout the years, we’ve seen reggae paired up with countless genres including rock, ska, pop, dub, and even EDM. Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad have carved a new path, though, by combining reggae with Americana, bluegrass, and country. Steady, the band’s fourth album, sees a mastering of the reggae dub standard and an unmatched musicality.
Being a jam band, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad leave room in their music for extended soloing and improv, and this is extremely evident in a majority of their tracks, from “Whatever Comes” to “.45” to “Move.” All three songs are strong in their own rights, though, as they display the band’s musical variety. “Whatever Comes” is a standard reggae dub song, but has elements of funk in it, as well as a gradual layering of various instruments and textures throughout its 4:25 runtime. “.45” sees country bluegrass guitar melodies interacting with reggae dub beats in this Sublime meets Phish jam. “Move” is another reggae dub standard, however, the melodies, chord structures, and progressions all lean toward blues rock.
One of the stronger songs from the album is “Steady,” the title-track. It’s infused with synthpop textures and melodies, all while sticking to the reggae dub formula. Vocal textures are ever-present in this song, from the reverb-soaked “oohs” to the three-part harmonies featured in the verses and chorus. “Steady” ends with amazing instrumental harmonies created by a descending synth melody and ascending bassline.
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad have been around for 10 years now and with each release, their experience grows and expertise shows as they continue to make good music, whether it’s reggae, dub, country, bluegrass, rock, or blues.