Following the tremendous success of their most recent album Steady (which debuted at #1 on the Billboard reggae chart), East Coast roots-reggae tour-de-force Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad have just released a new Americana roots-themed album entitled Bright Days, out May 18th on Easy Star Records.

Like Steady, Bright Days was also recorded at Rear Window Studio in Brookline, MA, again with the incredibly well-respected reggae producer Craig “DubFader” Welsch (10 Ft. Ganja Plant) at the helm.    

Milt Reder, the owner of Rear Window Studio, also influenced the direction of the record heavily, playing guitar throughout. Reder has a long history in the business as a player, producer and songwriter, having worked with Susan Tedeschi, Bo Diddley, and others.  Singer-bassist James Searl remarked that Reder helped guide GPGDS to accomplish their goal of recording songs that had never been rehearsed or worked out previous to the studio session, noting that “When Milt plugged in his guitar and began to play, we realized that the session was serious and special.”

Bright Days features nine original songs that span the musical landscape from American Beauty-era Grateful Dead sounds (the title track), to early American folk music via Bob Dylan and Neil Young (“It Won’t Be Long”) and even to some good ol’ Southern country-blues inspired tunes such as “Good to You.”

Other notable guests featured are G. Love on harmonica on “Humboldt County Gold,” an herb-inspired honky-tonk tune which beautifully incorporates G. Love’s harmonica with muddy, bluesy guitar lines and soulful harmonies which permeate the album. Not to be left unmentioned is the impressive work of renowned mandolin player Eric Robertson (The Boston Boys) on “Good To You,” “War Machine,” and “Atabey,” the latter being an exceptionally uplifting instrumental.

All in all, while Bright Days might not feel as “cohesive” as Country (2012), the entire album invokes deep feelings of struggle, perseverance and nostalgia for simpler times, which all feel extremely relevant now with the unfortunate passing of B.B. King, whose blues music has invoked those same feelings for generations of people, both past and present.

Whatever reservations critics might foster towards a reggae band exploring elements of bluegrass, folk, country and Americana-roots, GPGDS have surely silenced them once and for all with this most recent offering.  Bright Days showcases the band’s immense appreciation for all of these styles, and the band’s ability to incorporate all of them into one album makes this the perfect soundtrack for a lazy Sunday river float or a hot summer night by the fire with good friends.

-Mark McGwin @markmcgwin

You can order the album and get more information on the band via their official website. Check out their full tour schedule below!

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – U.S. Tour Dates
May 22: Monterey, CA – California Roots Festival
May 24: Novato, CA – HopMonk Tavern
May 25: Oakland, CA – Leo’s
May 27: Las Vegas, NV – Brooklyn Bowl
May 28: Hermosa Beach, CA – Saint Rocke
May 30: Ventura, CA – Discovery Ventura
May 31: Solana Beach, CA – Fiesta del Sol (Free)
Jul 11: San Bernardino, CA – Chalice Festival
Jul 16: Trumansburg, NY – GrassRoots Festival
Jul 31: Berryville, VA – Pasture Palooza
Aug 1: Amagansett, NY – The Stephen Talkhouse
Aug 7: Steamboat Springs, CO – Schmiggity’s
Aug 8: Loveland, CO – Arise Music Festival
Aug 13: Rochester, NY – Party In The Park
Aug 21: Franklin, OH – Ohmstead Music Festival
Aug 22: Bartow, WV – Camp Barefoot
Aug 29: Naples, NY – Purple Pig Music Festival
Sep 19: Sterling, NY – Sterling Stage Last Daze Of Summer
Sep 20: Greenfield, MA – Wormtown Music Festival