Alden Penner

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Alden Penner
Alden Penner performing with Clues
Background information
Born (1983-01-12) 12 January 1983 (age 37)
Loretteville, Quebec, Canada
GenresIndie pop
Indie rock
Alternative rock
InstrumentsVocals, electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboard
Years active2000–present
Rough Trade
Art School Dropout
Constellation Records
Caterpillars of the Community
Beep! Beep! Back Up the Truck
Villa Villa Nola
Take This Hammer
Associated actsAll Makes Parts & Collision
The Unicorns
The Hidden Words
Michael Cera
WebsiteAlden Penner at Bandcamp
Clues at Constellation Records

Alden Penner (born 12 January 1983)[1] is a Canadian musician and producer best known for his work with the Unicorns, Clues, and for his solo output.


The Unicorns (2000-05)[edit]

In December 2000 Penner formed the Unicorns with Nicholas Thorburn in Campbell River, British Columbia.[2] The duo's first release was a limited edition CD entitled Unicorns Are People Too on their own label, Caterpillars of the Community. This was shortly followed by their début LP Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?, released by Alien 8 in North America and Rough Trade in the UK. With the addition of drummer Jamie Thompson the band embarked on a hectic tour of North America, Europe and Australia throughout 2003/04 before announcing their split in January 2005.[3]

Solo work and Clues (2005-10)[edit]

Penner's first release as a solo musician was a limited-edition 7" entitled The Ghost of Creaky Crater. The single was recorded in Melbourne whilst the Unicorns were on tour and released by the label Art School Dropout in 2005. Penner reissued the single on his own Montreal-based label Take This Hammer in 2006, soon followed by a split 7" with Brendan Reed (formerly of Arcade Fire) entitled Surface To Air Missive / I Love What U Did.[4] Penner and Reed then formed Clues, playing their first show at the Pop Montreal festival in October 2007. Clues' self-titled debut album was released on May 19, 2009 by Constellation Records,[5] and toured across North America and Europe throughout 2009. The band have been on "indefinite hiatus" since 2010.[6]

Also in 2009, Penner was credited as producer and musician on the soundtrack to the film Paper Heart. He had previously worked as a composer on various independent films, including the 2005 Larry Kent dark comedy The Hamster Cage,[7] Surfing The Waste ("a musical documentary about dumpster diving"),[8] and The Visible Will vs. the Invisible Wall in which Penner collaborates with Algerian refugee Abdelkader Belaouni.[9]

The Hidden Words (2011)[edit]

In 2011 Penner spent time travelling across North Africa and the Middle East before releasing a solo EP entitled Odes To The House on the Netherlands label Beep! Beep! Back Up the Truck. He then returned to Montreal and reunited with drummer Jamie Thompson, forming another new group The Hidden Words with musicians Eric and James Farr, Marie-Claire Saindon and Neah Bahji Kelly. In late 2011 they self-released an album entitled Free Thyself From The Fetters of this World in which Penner took lyrical inspiration from Baháʼu'lláh, founder of the Baháʼí Faith.[10] Penner described his exploration of the Baháʼí Faith around this time: "I discovered a lot of things that I already agreed with, but that were articulated in a way that I found very empowering... It radically shifted my thinking."[11] And then, in 2013, after years of dedication, personal differences with others Penner left the Baháʼí Faith.

Exegesis and return of the Unicorns (2014)[edit]

In late 2013 Penner released a solo EP, Precession, followed by a self-produced LP entitled Exegesis which he released through his Bandcamp page on February 4, 2014.[12] The album features songs recorded during his time with The Unicorns and Clues, as well as more recent compositions influenced by the Baháʼí Faith and the Canadian poet Alden Nowlan. Around this time it was also announced that the Unicorns would reunite to support Arcade Fire on a handful of arena shows. On 21 September 2014, the Unicorns played a headline show at the Pop Montreal Festival, but have not announced any further live dates.

Canada in Space EP[edit]

In early 2015, Penner released new track, "Meditate", featuring friend and collaborator, Michael Cera. Penner subsequently announced a new EP titled Canada in Space, to be released on 29 June 2015 on City Slang records, and a European tour of the UK, Netherlands, France and Germany, featuring Cera as both support act and a member of his backing band.[13][14]




  1. ^ Horned wonder -
  2. ^ Jason Heller (1 April 2004). "Horn Again: The Unicorns resurrect the mystic rite of having fun". Denver Westword.
  3. ^ Drowned In Sound: Who will cut their hair now they're gone? - Unicorns split
  4. ^ Internet Archive Wayback Machine: Take This Hammer
  5. ^ "Clues Announce Album Details and US Tourdates! | News". Archived from the original on 30 March 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
  6. ^ Popstache interview with Alden Penner
  7. ^ IMDB: The Hamster Cage (2005),
  8. ^ IDFFA: Surfing The Waste (2008)
  9. ^ WorldCat - The Visible Will vs. the Invisible Wall
  10. ^ Bandcamp - The Hidden Words
  11. ^ Popstache interview with Alden Penner
  12. ^ Alden Penner on Bandcamp
  13. ^ Camp, Zoe. "The Unicorns' Alden Penner Teams With Michael Cera for New EP and Tour". Pitchfork. Pitchfork Media Inc. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  14. ^ music, Guardian. "Michael Cera to tour with the Unicorns' Alden Penner". Guardian News and Media Ltd. Retrieved 20 June 2015.

External links[edit]