News Podcast

Ep. #71: Alden Penner

Alden Penner is a respected and idiosyncratic singer, songwriter, and musician based in Montreal. Penner was a key figure in the influential bands the Unicorns and Clues and went on to make heartfelt, enigmatic, and questioning music in a project called Hidden Words. On Feb. 11, he quietly released a lovely new album under his own name; it’s called Exegesis and has prompted him to play at the Silver Dollar in Toronto for the Wavelength festival on Thursday Feb. 13, Montreal’s Le Cagibi on Friday Feb. 14, and the Le Pantoum in Quebec City on Feb. 15. Here, Alden and I discuss my issue understanding release dates, the fact that Exegesis is a personal compilation of sorts with at least one song that was partially conceived by Nick Thorburn when the two were in high school, the self-reflexive nature of putting this record together, Penner’s evolution as a songwriter and the distinction between his simpler and more intricate work, his earliest days learning how to play music in his teens and the impact “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” had on him and his guitar playing, jamming with his geography teacher, meeting and collaborating with Thorburn for the first time, the influence that Jimi Hendrix, Reverend Gary Davis, Elizabeth Cotten, and Fugazi had on his guitar playing, interesting guitar teachers and Syd Barrett, playing every instrument on a record yourself, the importance of band chemistry and the Avengers, the multiple meanings of the album’s title, which came to Penner in a dream, how religion has impacted Penner’s ability to find his own voice and feel bolstered by his community, the importance of self-assertion in the face of confrontation, Laura Crapo’s role in producing Penner’s new album, the mysteries of mysticism and psychic surgery, having faith, his upcoming shows, why the Unicorns must reunite to play shows and maybe even reissue Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? in 2014, the song “We Seek,” and more.

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Alden Penner of Clues on MVIMS – January 13, 2010

good afternoon,

This week the Mich Vish Interracial Morning Show! is pleased to welcome Alden Penner of Clues to the program at 8:05 AM EST.


To learn more about listening live or downloading/streaming this show later, please visit this link or perhaps even this link to hear this and/or other recent episodes.




KYEO & The CSA Present:

Thursday January 14, 2010




Clues was founded by Alden Penner and Brendan Reed, both active for years in the Montreal music scene. Alden was one-half of Unicorns, a band that burned bright and fast at the beginning of the century, and Brendan has been a member of a number of groups, including the endless, Endless Forever. They began building Clues quietly and in near-secrecy during the summer of 2007, playing a series of unadvertised shows in small Montreal venues. Their early performances elicited passionate responses and made it clear that Alden had an awesome batch of new tunes in the works, a glorious voice to deliver them with, and a brilliant foil in Brendan as his co-conspirator.
By 2008, friends Ben Borden, Lisa Gamble, and Nick Scribner had been recruited from the Montreal art and music scenes; a few more exuberant shows went down, the sound building and strengthening every time. With the band’s foundations fully cemented, Clues began work on a debut record towards the end of the year.
During live shows and on recordings, the band share and trade-off on an extensive array of instruments and create a twitchy, urgent, utterly original music that expands Montreal’s (already diverse) pop music lexicon. Clues incorporates multiple drummers, horns, a table of fried electronics (including a Commodore 64 and an OLPC), saw and pianette alongside their trusty electric guitars and basses.
Through their founding and early work as a band, Clues has remained close to home, dedicated to collaborating with and supporting fellow independent artists. In 2008, Reed started VillaVillaNola, a digital music store featuring recordings by predominantly local artists who have flourished underground but who otherwise receive sparse attention. Strong ties to the independent music community, together with shared ideals, led Clues to collaborate with Montreal’s Constellation, who released the band’s debut record in May of 2009.

Etaoin Shrdlu

Featuring members of Rockets Red Glare, Weights and Measures, and I Can Put My Arm Back On You Can’t, the personnel list in Etaoin Shrdlu (there is no proper pronunciation) reads as an all-star lineup for the Southern Ontario post-hardcore scene. In the same way that their name is taken from a forgotten reference within the printing industry, the band was originally conceived as a side project to explore a style of instrumental music that was felt to be lost or abandoned by contemporary bands. The result is a series of songs that are precisely executed and riddled with tension, while still being heavy, groove oriented, and surprisingly catchy. Their new, debut album Mating Calls is one of the biggest sounding albums of the year!

Les Mammographes

A late addition to the bill, Les Mammographes are a band from Quebec City and you can learn more about them here:

Special Guest:

DJ Charless

Thursday January 14, 2010
The Ebar 41 Quebec St. Guelph
Doors at 10:00 PM

$8 with non-perishable food item
$10 without

Tickets Available:
The Bookshelf – 41 Quebec St. – Guelph
Orange Monkey – 005 Princess St. – Waterloo
CSA Office – University of Guelph – UC Room 274
(non-perishable food items will be accepted at ticket outlets)

All food items collected will benefit the Guelph Food Bank.

musicprogramming [at] gmail [dot] com


THURSDAY FEBRUARY 18: IAN BLURTON+HURON=HAPPY ENDINGS & THE SAD CLOWNS @ Ebar – 9:00 PM $8 w/food donation /$10 – AA/LIC benefit for: