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 their self-titled debut record towards the end of the year.
During live shows and on recordings, the band shared and traded-off on an extensive array of instruments and created a twitchy, urgent, utterly original music that expanded Montreal’s (already diverse) pop music lexicon. Clues incorporated 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 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. In the autumn of 2009, Lisa left the band and was replaced by Jon Boles.
After several North American and European tours, change was once again afoot. Alden veered off to work on a music project that was near and dear to his heart, and the remaining four members began building something new (to be continued)…