LOW STANDARDS, HIGH FIVES – Single/Video Review: “Silent Decor”

I love when bands come up with offbeat or quirky names for themselves, and one of the better ones I’ve come across lately is Low Standards, High Fives, an alternative rock oufit from Turin, Italy. Formed in 2012, the band has continually evolved to shape their sound and musical direction. They expanded to a five-piece by 2016, and now consist of Ame Ray (guitar, lead vocals), Lore Frezza (bass, vocals), Luca Cravero (guitar), Endi Sassano (guitar, vocals) and Karl Lèmon (drums). Having three guitarists gives their music a heavier, fuller sound.

Low Standards High Fives

In January, the band released their hard rock single “Silent Decor,” which will be featured on their upcoming debut album Are We Doing The Best We Can? The album will be released through UK/US label Engineer Records on March 31st, and the band is making “Silent Decor” available as a free download via their Bandcamp page.

The band delivers aggressive riffs of grungy, jangly and shredded guitars and lots of crashing cymbals, anchored by a heavy bass line. Ray wails the lyrics about meaning nothing more to someone than just an ornament:  “So here’s what you need. A silent decor. Ornamental / What am I here for?” It’s a terrific rock track.

The unusual video shows a man thumbing through albums at a record store and choosing one titled “Silent the Kobras,” and in the next scene is shown holding the album over his head. The video segues to the band wearing wigs and performing the song at a club as the heavy metal band ‘Kobras.’ After the show, Ray gets out of their van to take a leak, and disappears without a trace. Nine months later, he’s shown lying naked in a field, then slowly gets up and stumbles off.

Connect with the band:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase their music on iTunes or you can download their previous EP’s for free on Bandcamp

FROM THE CAVE Release a Brilliant Video for “Cavalier”

From the Cave Cavalier

London-based From the Cave are quickly becoming one of my favorite indie bands. The amazingly talented quintet play a unique style of alternative rock that seems to incorporate an eclectic mix of funk, pop, shoegaze, punk, blues and Gypsy influences. They released their self-titled debut EP From the Cave in 2016, and in 2017 began dropping a series of new singles. Last fall I reviewed their beautiful “Halloween” and the gorgeous video they produced for the song (which you can read here). They’ve just released a new single “Cavalier” that will be included on their upcoming EP, and have produced a fantastic new video for the track.

The five-member band consists of Kristian Møller-Munar on vocals and guitar, Mikaela Lindgren on vocals, keys and percussion, Josh Scriven on guitar and vocals, Johan Crondahl on bass, and Anton Vysotsky on drums. “Cavalier” is a delightful love song with a rousing Gypsy dance vibe. The band employs all kinds of synths and strings, including guitar and violin but also possibly zither, cimbalom and/or mandolin, to create an intriguing Eastern European sound that’s incredibly catchy and wonderful. Kristian’s vocals are captivating as he expresses his frustration that the object of his desire keeps rebuffing his romantic intentions. “I could be your cavalier if you like me. I’m sitting by the cabaret but you don’t mind me. / But angel, I’ve been waiting for long. Still I’m writing you songs.”

Like their two previous animated videos, this one was also created by Kristian, who’s clearly a skilled and highly imaginative videographer. The trippy, psychedelic imagery is intensely colorful, and tells the story laid out in the song. It starts off in a cabaret, where the band is performing the song. Suddenly the cabaret seems to be swallowed by a creature, then we’re taken into a series of tunnels that are possibly the creature’s insides. We quickly return to the continually shape-shifting cabaret, in which the protagonist appears to be floating aimlessly, possibly symbolizing his sense of futility and feeling adrift in the situation. It’s brilliant and I love it!

Connect with From the Cave:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase: Bandcamp

 

RUSTY SHIPP Release New Video for “SS Naronic”

Nashville rock band Rusty Shipp released their monumental album Mortal Ghost in 2017 to wide acclaim. Over the past several months they’ve been producing videos for different tracks off the album, and last November they released a terrific animated video for “Treading Water,” which I reviewed. They’ve now released an amazing new video for another track “SS Naronic,” a dramatic song about a ship that sank on February 19, 1893. The band chose today for the release to commemorate that fateful event.

Rusty Shipp calls itself a “Nautical Rock’n’Roll” band, with a sound influenced by the melodic chord progressions of The Beatles, the surf guitar of Dick Dale, the grunge rock of Nirvana, and the heavy metal of Led Zeppelin, among others. Their music is characterized by a dark, underwater sound, haunting vocals, and heavy riffs. The band consists of singer/songwriter and front man Russ T. Shipp (literally his birth name) on guitar and vocals, Elijah Apperson on lead guitar, AJ Newton on drums and Michael Craft on bass.

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The SS Naronic was a steamship built in Belfast for the White Star Line. Eight days after leaving Liverpool for New York on February 11, 1893, the ship was lost at sea, along with all 74 people on board. According to Wikipedia, the exact cause of the ship’s sinking was never determined. However, messages found later that had been written by passengers and placed in bottles once they realized their ship was sinking seemed to indicate that it hit an iceberg. Rusty Shipp based their lyrics for the song on some of those actual messages. A particularly poignant line is “Oh god please tell me there is more than this, that this cold abyss is not the end.” Another is “Cattle and charcoal jettisoned to save the boat. But we won’t stay afloat.”

The hard-hitting song features intense, gritty guitars, heavy bass and lots of crashing cymbals, perfectly conveying the horror of the awful tragedy. The superb illustrated animation video was created by Hein Zaayman of Vohnic Music LLC, the same artist who illustrated the Mortal Ghost album cover. The brilliant use of sepia tones gives the video an historical feel.

Connect with Rusty Shipp: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Reverbnation / YouTube
Purchase: iTunes / cdbaby / Bandcamp

UNQUIET NIGHTS – Single Review: “Promise of You”

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I receive a lot of requests from artists and bands wanting reviews of their latest music or to be featured on this blog, and it’s fun to discover some great new music I would not have otherwise heard. So it was my good fortune when Luke Mathers, frontman of the indie rock band Unquiet Nights, reached out to me with their new single “Promise of You,” which officially drops tomorrow, February 16th.

Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Unquiet Nights began in 2006 as a solo project for Mathers, who writes all his songs, plays guitar and sings. He began recording tracks for what would become the first Unquiet Nights album 21st Century Redemption Songs, then relocated to Italy in 2010, where the album was finished. Mathers eventually brought Italian musicians Matteo Bussotti and Francesco Piciucchi on board, and Unquiet Nights officially became a band. In 2015 they released a second album Postcards in Real Time, an outstanding work that I strongly recommend my readers make an effort to check out by using one of the links at the end of this review. Mathers moved back to Northern Ireland in 2016, though he still plays with Bussotti and Piciucchi, and has been working on new material for a third album.

Unquiet Nights Luke

“Promise of You” is the first single, and it’s a hard-rockin’ beauty! It starts off with a drawn-out electric guitar note, then an explosion of gritty guitars and fuzzy bass rain down, propelled by a crushing drumbeat that really gets the blood pumping. The track grows more intense as dramatic synths and layers of jangly and shredded guitars are added, building to a pulse-pounding crescendo. The instrumentals are phenomenal, and Mathers fervent vocals perfectly convey the unbridled passion he feels for another, and the exciting promise of a romantic entanglement.

It’s a fantastic track, and a promising (no pun intended) sign that Unquiet Nights will be delivering another stellar album for our listening enjoyment.

Connect with Unquiet Nights:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on  Spotify / Apple MusicSoundcloud / Reverbnation
Purchase on Bandcamp or iTunes

THE TRIMS – Album Review: “Julian Street”

Trims album

San Jose, California-based indie post-punk band The Trims have been making great music for nearly a decade. Formed in 2009 by singer/songwriter/guitarist Gabe Maciel, The Trims also includes Billy Brady on drums and Mark Sharp on bass. Their on-stage charisma and skill at creating catchy, high-energy grooves have built them a huge following in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

They were one of the first bands I featured on this blog back in October 2015, and in August 2017, I reviewed their fantastic single “The One I Want.”  They’ve now released their second full-length album Julian Street (named after a major thoroughfare running through San Jose), which dropped in January, delivering ten superb tracks that showcase their exuberant guitar-driven sound.

The Trims photo

Julian Street starts off big with the exhilarating “Turn Out the Lights.” Our ears are instantly hit with an onslaught of Mark’s gritty bass and Billy’s hammering drumbeats, setting the stage for Gabe’s frantic riffs of chiming guitars. It’s clear their aim is to have us on our feet and dancing within seconds. With his fervent vocals, Gabe sings “Turn out the lights. Bring back the summer before our youth is gone.” On “Nobody Else” Gabe sings of his never ending devotion and not wanting to love anyone else.

Now is a good time to mention how much I love Gabe’s marvelous vocals and his signature guitar style, which seems to meld surf, punk, rock’n’roll and doo wop elements into a highly satisfying, upbeat sound uniquely recognizable as their own. Another thing is how well the guys play together, totally in sync with each other to create a tight sound.

Dying (Just to See Your Face)” and the lead single “The One I Want” are perfect examples of what I’m talking about, with intricate, fast-paced riffs of jangly guitars and a frenetic, heavy drumbeat. “Bedroom Mirror” has layers of multi-textured guitars over a funky bass line and drums that Billy seems to hit at 100 beats per second. The man is one hell of a power drummer!

The guys slow it down on the lovely acoustic ballad “Gone Away.” Gabe strums a melancholy riff on his guitar as he sings: “All we have is this moment to release what’s inside. All we have is tomorrow. I’ll be home in time. Tomorrow has gone away.” I really like this mellower sound which they do quite well, and wish they’d make more songs like this.

I Wish I Could Say” has Gabe wanting to apologize but unable to: “I would like to tell that I’m sorry for the stupid things I wish I’d never done./ I wish that I could say that the worst was over. I wish I could tell you nothing’s wrong.  But now I see I was mistaken. A fool who never seemed to care.”

Mark’s bass is prominently on display on the melodic hard-driving tracks “Hands of Time” and “You Tell Me.”  Of course, Gabe’s awesome guitar work and Billy’s skillful drumming are on-point as always. Album closer “Balam in Love” features generous synths that nicely complement the gorgeous guitars and throbbing bass, creating a bit of a new wave/punk-infused vibe. Gabe tells a lover that their relationship is over and he wants out: “There’s nothing more to say. This is the game you play. Just let me go.” It’s a brilliant track, and one of my favorites from this excellent and thoroughly enjoyable album.

Connect with The Trims:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify or Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp or iTunes

THUNDERIAN SUMMER – EP Review: “By The Gun”

Thunderian Summer EP

Thunderian Summer is a five-piece guitar-driven rock band from the British Midlands who released their debut EP By The Gun at the end of 2017. They also have a clever sense of humor. Their bio is so droll that, rather than make a pathetic attempt to paraphrase, I’ll simply quote their amusing words verbatim:

We “evolved from a covers band around the end of 2016. Made up of Dave, ex RAF, Come Dine With Me winning truck driver; Alex, Looked After Children’s residential worker; Tim the gas-man; Matt, who once made glow in the dark condoms; and Pabs, the smart one, introduced to drums by Felix Morales and a founding member of the Asturian grassroots punk band Polémika. We’ve lived the life we write about and write about the life we live. Our songs are our observations, our moods and desires.

After wandering the Derbyshire wilderness with only a guitar for company, Al found himself hitching a ride with a trucker who spoke only in song.  Growling melodies born of both pain and desire, the pair quickly resolved that together Rock’n’roll was their future.  They found an ageing bass player lost in a long forgotten depot of the Royal Mail. A stop at a pub on the A511 brought them to a Juke box, which, when loaded with a fifty pence piece grew tiny hands and played any song requested. Finally, out of the darkness and not wavering from the full beam, was a Spanish matador with drum sticks held aloft… And Thunderian Summer took it’s form.”

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After a hilarious self-description like that, you’ve got no choice but to check out their music! Now to properly introduce the band members, they are Dave Thomas (vocals), Alex “Big Al” Lee (lead guitar), Tim “The Juke” Stone (rhythm guitar), Matt “Pops” Morley (bass) and Pablo “Pabs” Fernandez (drums).  They cite as influences some of their favorite bands like the Foo Fighters, Gaslight Anthem, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and Kings of Leon (all of whom are among my favorites too).

Despite their wicked sense of humor, the band has a serious side, no more so than on “Just a Solder.” Gritty riffs accompanied by a droning bass line and set to a military-style drumbeat provide a fitting backdrop to the mournful lyrics. Thomas’s raw, emotionally-charged vocals convey despair as he wails about a soldier’s conflicted feelings of being both a loving husband and father vs. the responsibility and attendant guilt of being a soldier trained to kill:

I’m just a solder on the run
I’ve got nothing but this loaded gun
I got love for my country
But I’ve got no love for what I’ve done
I come home to my adoring wife
It’s in her hands I put my life

And I will live by this gun and I will die by this gun
At all costs, do what’s right
And I will live by this gun, and I will die by this gun
At all costs, I’m here to fight

Still in a serious mode, the guys dial up the energy on the melodic “The Man I Want to Be.” Layers of jangly riffs and fuzzy guitars nicely play off the smooth bass and Pabs’ confident drums. And once again, Thomas’s gritty vocals exhibit a raw vulnerability as he sings about his desperate wish to remain sober and be a better man. “Think It’s Time” kicks off with a beautiful, catchy little riff, then shredded guitars and lots of crashing cymbals enter, propelled by a buzzing bass line and fast-paced thumping drumbeat. Thomas’s impassioned vocals remind me a bit of Rob Thomas on this track.

Interestingly, the band includes a rousing live performance of “Lion Bear Tiger Mama” as one of the EP’s tracks, giving those of us who’ve never had the pleasure of seeing them live an inkling of how electrifying they must be on stage. Led Zeppelin’s influence can clearly be heard on this track that channels their classic head banger “Rock and Roll.” They surprise us again with the delightful acoustic track “Pretty Pants (Unplugged),” generously sampling the Counting Crows classic “Mr. Jones” – both musically and lyrically, with the great lines “And we will stare at beautiful women. Are they looking at you? No no, they must be looking at me.”

All in all, By The Gun is a great little EP. My only criticism is that at only 19 minutes long, its over too quickly, and I wish it had more songs. I guess I’ll just have to wait for Thunderian Summer to release some new music. In the meantime, those of you in the UK can catch them live at one of these upcoming shows:

February 17     Pi Bar, Leicester
March 17        The Gamecock Inn, Tamworth
April 20        The Victoria, Birmingham

Connect with Thunderian Summer:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on iTunes / cdbaby

REBELLE – EP Review: “Hide”

Rebelle Album

Followers of my blog know I like featuring indie artists and bands, as I want to give them exposure and help them gain new fans. Another recent find is REBELLE, a wonderful band from Quebec, Canada who describe themselves as “Filthy with a beat, but really, really sweet.” Their melodic, aggressive sound immediately grabbed my attention and had me returning to their music again and again.

Based in Wakefield, a small town 20 minutes north of Ottawa, REBELLE consists of siblings David (guitar, lead vocals) and Rylee Taggart (synths, backing vocals), Ryan Wiles (bass, guitar, backing vocals), and Joey Kane (drums). In November 2017 they released their debut EP Hide, featuring three fantastic tracks.

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The title track “Hide” opens with Rylee’s sharp, menacing synths, then a scratchy guitar riff takes over, backed by Ryan’s throbbing bass line and Joey’s pounding drums. The tempo is broken at intervals by a screeching guitar, followed by an assault of David’s shredded and distorted riffs in the chorus and outro. His vocal gymnastics are quite amazing, going from smoldering to falsetto as he snarls the lyrics warning someone who’s deceived him: “Hide your head in the sand and stay out of my sight I told you. You’re walking into trouble. Cause I’m a creature lurking in the night, I’m behind you. You better run and hide.

Shoot Me Down” really showcases the band’s skill at writing great melodies, as well as their strong musicianship. The guitar work on this track is stunning, and once again, David’s vocals are sublime. But it’s on the third track “The Rapture” that REBELLE really show us what they can do. Blistering riffs of gritty guitars, heavy bass and tumultuous percussion set the tone for the hard-hitting song. David defiantly challenges those stoking fear of  impending apocalypse: “They say today we better change our ways. Won’t make it through tomorrow. There ain’t no other fate. No no, hey hey, this ain’t gonna ruin my day.” The music explodes as David wails “So you call this the rapture!” There’s some tasty guitar noodling in the bridge, followed by a reprise of the scorching instrumentals. The sharp, otherworldly synths that opened “Hide” close out “The Rapture,” bringing this marvelous little EP full circle. Though it’s short, the three songs sure pack a punch. My only criticism is that I wish there were more of them!

They’ve just released a dark new video for “The Rapture,” containing footage from the 1924 German silent film Die Niebelungen: Siegfried. David told the webzine Soundfiction that “The Rapture is weird and ambiguous, but suggestive. Mildly post apocalyptic, yet medieval.” Have a look:

I love REBELLE’s music and hope they bless us with more songs very soon. To learn more about them, check out their Website

For those of you in far eastern Canada, you can see them play at the following shows:

FEB 1
Quebec, QC, Canada
FEB 2
Fri 10 PM UTC-04 · by Rebelle
Halifax, NS, Canada
FEB 3
Sat 9:30 PM UTC-04 · by Rebelle
Moncton, NB, Canada
FEB 4
Sun 8 PM UTC-04 · by Rebelle
Charlottetown, PE, Canada
MAR 3
Gatineau, QC, Canada

Connect with them on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud  / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

THE ONLY ROUTE – Single Review: “Made”

Alternative indie rock band The Only Route (also known as T.O.R.) play some of the most exciting guitar-driven rock I’ve heard recently. These guys kick ass with searing, razor-sharp riffs, thunderous percussion and addictive melodies. Formed in late 2016, the Lowestoft, UK foursome consists of Ryan Redwood (vocals, guitar), Robby Hodgey (guitar), Andy Kirk (bass) and Phil Dann (drums).

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Photo by Inallhonesty Media

They released their awesome debut single “Nothing Less,” in early 2017, followed by “Phil’s Place” and “Hesitation,” both stellar, hard-hitting tracks. Now, in 2018, they drop their fourth single “Made,” and it’s a real banger.

The track blasts through the gate with a frantic onslaught of wailing guitars, hammering drums and a pulsating bass line. The guys shred and distort their guitars nearly to the breaking point, seemingly intent on blowing out our speakers and eardrums! Ryan sings about the dream of making it big in one’s profession. He explained that for the band, the lyrics mean “we were made for being out there playing live, and if it turns bad, we can always erase it and start again.

You set the tone for tonight’s events
And we’ll be setting the pace the rest of your life
What if it takes a turn for the worst?
We’ll set fire to all that you were
Yeah you were made, tonight’s events
Yeah you were made, tonight’s events
Yeah you were made for dickin’ around
For dickin’ around
Yeah you were made
Well it’s reasonably frightening to get to the future
Well imagine the feeling of lying on the grass
Looking up to the sky and saying you’ve made it
I say we’ll do it
It’s bound to happen

The tempo slows halfway through with just thumping drums and bass, but the brief calm is abruptly shattered by a series of piercing guitar chords before ramping back up with a barrage of screaming guitars for a dramatic finish. These guys can rock, and I’m certain they’ll make it big!

Connect with TOR:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Soundcloud / Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

NO MIND STATE – Single Review: “Fodder of Galaxies”

Fodder of Galaxies

No Mind State is an alternative rock band from Oslo, Norway, and they’ve just released a brilliant new single “Fodder of Galaxies.” The single follows up on their superb debut track “Hold Me Back, I’m Leaving,” which I reviewed last month. The band plays high-energy melodic rock, bombarding our ears with thunderous riffs, heavy bass lines, and speaker-blowing percussion. Making all this great noise are Henrik Posèbo Sørebø (Guitar, lead vocals), Vetle Berthelsen (Lead Guitar), Vegard Tveito (Bass, backing vocals) and Christian Gathe (Drums).

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“Fodder of Galaxies” is awesome, and I like it even better than their previous single (which I really liked a lot). It starts off with sounds transmitted by a space station, then a gradual building of synths accompanied by a jangly guitar riff, humming bass, thumping drums and crashing cymbals. The instrumentals ramp up as the song progresses, Henrik’s raw vocals becoming more impassioned as the music intensifies. Vetle and Henrik shred their guitars, Vegard’s bass gets heavier and Christian pummels his drum kit with abandon. Halfway through, a brief but stunning guitar riff is introduced, and the music continues building to a crescendo, raising goosebumps on this old body of mine. It’s a magnificent track!

The biting lyrics speak to the evils of capitalism and greed, and the damage it’s doing to society and our earth:

What have we done
We’ve reaped all that we’ve sown
Still we crave for more
Galaxy dust is what we’ll swallow next just to quench our lust
Kill it faster – Grow more after
Villainous grab it – Hold it, Suffrage – Boring
Give me more
How can you say, that your way’s any better?
How can you know that we’re not just the fodder of Galaxies in my mind

Connect with No Mind State: WebsiteFacebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify or Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes or Deezer

DANCING ON PLUTO – Single Review: “Feels Good”

Dancing on Pluto

It’s always a pleasure to discover a new band or artist whose music I instantly love. Dancing on Pluto is such a band. Formed just a year ago and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, they’re an alternative rock band consisting of four long time friends Chas (lead vocals), Josh (drums), Gilbert (guitar) and Ishmael (bass). Their fun, energetic music is a blend of their favorite genres, including rock, hip hop, R&B, synth-pop, shoegaze and grunge – to name just a few of the influences I detect in their eclectic sound. They released their debut EP Abandon Ship in 2017, featuring five awesome tracks that I highly recommend my readers check out. They’ve now followed up with a terrific new single “Feels Good”  that immediately blew me away.

In an interview with the web magazine From the Depths Entertainment (which you can read here), the band explained the origin of their name, and what they want listeners to take away from their music:

“The concept, in short, is that Pluto is a planet of unexplored potential. It took until recent to even say it was a planet again. But Pluto is like our music. When you listen to our music, it is much like taking a trip to another planet. You are exploring the planet. But at the same time, you hear the song and they are jams. It makes you wanna dance, jam, tap your feet, or whatever. Thus, the name Dancing on Pluto. Our music is always changing and complicated because people, including us, are always changing and complicated.”

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Well, complicated is a good thing when music sounds as good as it does on “Feels Good,” which Chas announces with a shout out at the beginning of the track. After a few seconds of tapping drumsticks, a barrage of shredded guitars ensues, along with Chas’ wonderful vocals that sound as smooth as John Legend one minute, then raw and loud the next.  The tempo goes from a mellow, bass-driven groove while he croons “When you’re on your own, take time and deep breaths. And when you’re on your own…”, to a bombastic onslaught of more gritty shredded guitars with the refrain “…you’ll find out it feels good! It’s so good, right on! Get up! Go ahead, get down! Go ahead, right on!

The track seems to end at around 2:50 with the line “I’m having a revelation. Maybe we’re better off alone in the night.” But after a couple seconds, the calm is shattered when Chas lets out a yell, and a barrage of wailing guitars rains down upon us before settling back down at the end. We’re left drained but totally satisfied by this fantastic song that’s candy for the ears.

I love Dancing on Pluto and cannot wait to hear more songs from this incredibly talented young band.

Connect with Dancing on Pluto:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase:  iTunes