Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
"Make It Better"
If there was ever any question where Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad fits in the roots reggae food chain, the band's new 10-cut album, "Make It Better," makes it abundantly clear: the top, baby. The Rochester band returns to its trademark deep-dish roots after its 2015 Americana detour, "Bright Days."
The unbridled joy snaking its way through the band's spine-shifting swing is positively palpable. Songs like "Really True" pack a punch despite their feather light feel. The whole record — although packed with reggae sugar and drive — has an uncanny knack of playing the air surrounding the notes and beats as if it were an instrument itself. Just dig the unfettered, uncluttered drum opening to the whole affair on the title track before it dives into the happiness and innocence of "Live and Travel." Dynamically, "Make It Better" rocks mid-tempo and steady with flourishes of psychedelic spice and room to jam live. And man alive, just dig the sass and brass of the horn section. — BY FRANK DE BLASE