Some of us remember traveling in the backseats of family cars on long road trips, leaning over to punch the radio pre-sets and dial in a goldmine of early 1970s soft rock. “Jackie Blue,” “I Want to Make It With You,” “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace),” “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”: the playlist goes on and on in memories. Lush recordings broadcast over AM radio are nobody’s idea of high fidelity, but the music didn’t sound lo-fi to us. Our ears invested the slightest of details — pick on steel strings, a tamborine’s decay, the water-color notes from a treated piano, a slide guitar’s lazy warble — with childhood rumblings of restlessness, escape, yearning.
Night Moves taps this emotionally resonant mix of sound and feeling on Pennied Days, a new album released this week. This Minneapolis duo are emerging as masters of recordings albums whose tracks blur together, all slow- to mid-tempo pieces sprinkled with the sonic gloss of commercial folk-rock, to yield a dazzling cumulative effect. Frontman John Pelant’s vocals are sly and seductive, conveying the itch of 20-something longing to elevate Night Moves’ material beyond the polite complacency of so much adult contemporary.
The new album shows a modest development from their 2012 debut album. Whereas that album was saturated with the brown suede sound of the 1970s — the musical equivalent of a retro Instagram filter — Pennied Days finds the group moving into the starry scale traveled by your Flaming Lips and Mercury Revs. Still, these guys do what they do — there’s no mistaking the time and place evoked by the lead guitar on opening track “Carl Sagan.” Night Moves channels the sounds and moods of not-so-long-ago North American airwaves to create a compelling contemporary travelogue.
NIGHT MOVES ON TOUR:
April 14 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Ave
April 16 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas
April 18 –Toronto, ON @ Drake
April 19 – Montreal, QC @ Le Divan Orange
April 21 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
April 22 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
April 23 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
April 24 – Washington, DC @ DC9
April 25 – Columbus, OH @ Rumba Cafe
April 26 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Hi-Fi
April 27 – Madison, WI @ The Frequency
May 6 – Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern
May 7 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
May 10 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
May 11 – Santa Barbara, CA @ Velvet Lounge
May 12 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
May 13 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
May 14 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
May 18 – Austin, TX @ Sidewinder
May 19 – Houston, TX @ Rudyards British Pub
May 20 – Dallas, TX @ Double Wide
May 21 – Kansas City, MO @ Tank Room
May 22 – Omaha, NE @ Reverb Lounge
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs about the intersection of urban studies and popular music at musicalurbanism.org.