Formed in 2009 in the Twin Cities, Night Moves is composed at its core of John Pelant and Micky Alfano. Friends since high school, their bond was solidified when Alfano lent Pelant his copy of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, a luminous classic of turn-the-page melancholy that echoes through Pennied Days. Over time, Pelant and Alfano broadened their scope to allow for a wide array of maverick influences, ranging from traditionalist heroes like Leon Russell and The Band to r’n’b originators Curtis Mayfield and Sly Stone to pre-punk experimentalists Suicide. (They also love Joe Walsh, like all free-thinking Americans.)
For Pennied Days, Pelant channeled both his disillusionment and his quiet resolve into a set of beautiful, melodic songs whose sunny surface obscures an inner darkness. Pennied Days might ultimately be as breezy and pleasurable as the records Pelant grew up loving, but that description belies the years of work the band put into making the album.
“A lot of the songs are about trying to find yourself and what your future will look like and who you are – life overall,” Pelant says now — a seemingly simple statement about the most complicated of personal journeys. After releasing their 2012 debut, Colored Emotions — and touring with the likes of Father John Misty, Lord Huron, Django Django, and Poliça — Pelant set about recording demos for the follow-up. Originally, he planned on making another record quickly — Pelant is compulsively creative, writing loads of hooky pop songs in short bursts. (The band has few hobbies outside of music, beyond “drinking, wasting time talking about life, girls, and partying.”). But sessions for Pennied Days stretched far longer than anticipated, with the music veering from Flaming Lips-influenced doomsday dirges to the folky, laidback material the band were known for, and so eventually producer John Agnello was introduced to help steer things back on course, resulting in a 9 song collection of future folk-rock, paisley-tinged guitar licks, and even a piano jam or two.
“I was spending my days going into my basement, being in the dark while it was sunny outside,” is how Pelant sums up the making of Pennied Days. But after so much time in the darkness, Night Moves is ready to return to the light.