DANCING ON PLUTO – EP Review: “Paradise Fahrenheit”

Dancing on Pluto

Dancing on Pluto is a talented and charismatic rock band I learned about at the beginning of this year, when I first heard their fantastic single “Feels Good” (which I reviewed). Formed in early 2017 and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dancing on Pluto is made up of four long time friends Chas (lead vocals), Josh (drums), Gilbert (guitar) and Ishmael (bass). Drawing influences from many of their favorite genres, including rock, hip hop, R&B, reggae, synth-pop, shoegaze and grunge, they create music that’s eclectic, interesting and unpredictable. They released their superb debut EP Abandon Ship in 2017, followed by “Feels Good” at the end of the year. In April, they dropped their second EP Paradise Fahrenheit, delivering five great new tunes for our listening pleasure.

Like they did on Abandon Ship, Dancing on Pluto really bends genres and mixes things up on Paradise Fahrenheit – one of the things I love about their music. The first track “Ozone” has a sunny reggae beat, but a hip hop element is added via Chas speed-rapping in the song’s middle. The acoustic and wobbly electric guitars are particularly good, with a tasty little riff in the bridge. The song seems to essentially be about not seeing the forest for the trees, and feeling pessimistic about life: “All I see, nestled in green, tripping over nothin’ by my own damn feet. I can’t see at all, no stars in the sky. No food and I’m starving.” But after spending time in the forest, he finds clarity and peace of mind, and his attitude becomes more optimistic: “Nestled in green. Visibly at ease. The stars are so beautiful.

Where the Wild Things Are” starts off as an uptempo rock song, with buoyant riffs and peppy drums. Halfway through, the track shifts to sort of a ska beat, with jangly guitars and strutting bass. Chas sings of teenage insecurities, self-doubt and the struggle for independence: “I know what people see. I’m scared that you’re too good for me. That’s why I’m always scared. / Is it because I get jealous when I see you in a crowd? Is it because I can’t take you where my thoughts get loud? Am I not beautiful enough for you to want to treat me good?

The joyously uplifting gem “Feels Good” is the song that first made me fall for Dancing on Pluto. Beginning with Chas yelling “It feels good, yeah!“, followed by a few seconds of a simple drumbeat and tapping drumsticks, the track bursts wide open with a barrage of shredded guitars, then settles back down. Chas’ incredible vocal dexterity really shines on this track – sounding as smooth and soulful 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 you’ll find out…”, to an explosion of wailing guitars and thunderous drums with the refrain that perfectly describes the song’s affect on me:  “It feels good! It’s so good, right on!”

The guys change things up again with “Snowflakes on Mercury,” which sounds totally different than any of the other tracks on the EP.  The beautiful, languid song has more of a shoegaze vibe, with greater use of synths and keyboards, yet they insert some grungy riffs in the bridge, adding a bit of poignant drama. The lyrics seem to address self-awareness and appraisal: “Snowflakes, I want to see you even when you hurt my eyes. I want to feel you even when you hurt my skin. Falling and floating. You help all of my footprints be seen. So I can see how far I am from where I’ve been. Falling and floating.”

Monet,” is a seven-minute-long rock song with an incredibly pleasing and catchy melody, and marvelous strummed acoustic and electric guitar work. At roughly four minutes in, the tempo slows and riffs of jangly guitar dominate until drums and crashing cymbals return. The instrumentals all quiet down to just a simple acoustic guitar riff to close out the track. The lyrics seem to be about working through problems in a relationship: “I’d paint a picture of love that I can’t put into words for you. / This is your whole life, not just a cause worth fighting for. / I’m standing outside your door, ’cause I thought that I was more than the half-hearted fool you took me for. We’re fine ’cause our creator says so. We’ll be fine.

With Paradise Fahrenheit, Dancing on Pluto have another solid EP under their collective belts as they start to build an impressive discography. I love their music, and look forward to hearing more great and innovative songs from them.

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

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.”

Dancing on Pluto3

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