Wavelength FOURTEEN must see: Alden Penner

Wavelength FOURTEEN kicks off tonight (Feb. 13) at the Silver Dollar Room and I’m weak in the knees for Alden Penner (ex-The Unicorns/Clues) to play tracks from his new album Exegesis released last week. Among Penner’s performance is Phedre (Toronto), Tops (Montreal), Zoo Owl (Toronto), and You’ll Never Go To Heaven (London… Ontario).

Alden Penner, photo courtesy of Solid PR

I must admit that my excitement to see Penner is somewhat residual. It was 2004 (panicking in my realization these feelings come from 10 years ago…) when I held a ticket to see The Unicorns at a lovely and dingy venue in London, Ontario. I was in high school, owning the lockered hallways, excited about life or actually ’emo’ as all hell (let’s be real – I was listening to The Unicorns) when my buddy texted me: THE UNICORNS ARE DEAD. R.I.P., the same message appearing on their website a few days before our show. Those bastards, I thought. How could they do this to me? Don’t they know how much I was looking forward to this? I mean, come on, I was in high school. Of course my thoughts were completely self-serving. And the reason I know all this is because I am feeling them right now. Alden Penner is back; a little piece of what I once wanted. And all his songs must me for me.

I am only half-kidding about what I just wrote.

But this much is true: Penner has released a debut solo album titled Exegesis and it is hauntingly lovely. Now I know this album is not The Unicorns, or Clues, but it’s different and better and real in its own right and as it should be. The raw guitar riffs and the rolling tones of lyrical poetry that were present in The Unicorns are back, satisfyingly, with a mix of internal reflection and solitude. Penner’s new album is like a sweet letter to a loved one; quiet and loud all at once. 

If you only have time to listen to two tracks, here are my favourites: Lost the Skin and Lovely Legs.

You can stream Exegesis in its entirety on Brooklyn Vegan or get your copy on bandcamp or iTunes. His EP Precession is also here.

As an aside, Penner was quoted in Exclaim! yesterday saying a Unicorns reunion may be in the works. Is 2014 year of the Unicorn (see their 2004 prediction below) or is Penner going to continue to thrive as a solo poet?

#WL14 tonight is co-presented with Silent Shout
8pm • $10 adv / $15 door • 19+

Thursday February 13 @ The Silver Dollar Room, 486 Spadina Ave.
PHEDRE (Toronto – electro-pop R&B decadence from Dan and April of Hooded Fang / Daps Records)
TOPS (Montreal – the missing link between ‘80s synth-pop and ‘70s soft-rock / Arbutus Records)
Zoo Owl (Toronto – mysterious dance-pop apparition)
Alden Penner (Montreal / ex-The Unicorns & Clues – love ballads for the modern age)
You’ll Never Get To Heaven (London, ON – ambient dream-pop duo / Divorce Records)
Please note: Ostrich Tuning are regretfully no longer able to perform.
+ DJ ARP-2600
++ Projections by General Chaos Visuals + Tough Guy Mountain

See you there!

Andrea Wrobel, Senior Staff Writer

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