Posted by: on August 25, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Rob Kenna, front and center.

As kind of an unspoken rule, we hardly ever write in first person on the Detour Website. But when something sad and heartbreaking occurs, sometimes it’s appropriate to toss the rules out of the window and write straight from the heart.

So it is with great sadness that we report last week’s passing of local musician Rob Kenna. Kenna was the lead singer and songwriter for the Farewells — an Ypsilanti-and-Detroit-based pop group that was just starting to get people talking around town. Formed in 2003 by Kenna, the band evolved from a recording project — one that resulted in 2004’s underrated pop gem Suspicious Tones — into a full-fledged live entity, featuring bassist Nick White and drummer Larry Johnson.

A few of us here at Detour knew Rob; some better than others. But when I think of Rob, I am instantly transported back to early 2001 and 2002, when I frequented a indie-rock dance club in Windsor, Ontario called the Loop. Before Detroit kids were hip to how much fun dancing to Belle and Sebastian and Blur was, the Loop was essentially the only place my friends and I knew of where we could enjoy some drinks and the music that we liked without the bother or the pretense of trying to look or act cool in the process. Every Friday, we would make our way to the bar, knowing full well that we’d see some of the same characters week after week, and most definitely lose our shit to the Superfriendz’ “10 Lbs.” before the lights came flashing on, exposing our sweaty torsos and foreheads in all their glory.

One such character that was always in attendance was Rob Kenna, perched comfortably behind the DJ booth, helping the resident disc-spinner pick track after track of awesome music that would have us frequently dragging each other on to the dance floor — even if we were too awkward and shy to get out there in the first place. Besides supplying the right jams at the right time, Rob always delivered when it came to massive hugs and a genuinely enthusiastic “It’s great to see you again, man!” kind of greeting that made you feel like that hour-long wait to get through the Windsor tunnel was totally worth it. His extremely amiable and positive attitude was the kind of stuff that would exhilarate you. In fact, when I first began encountering Rob, his polite and jovial manner — not to mention the fact that I only saw him in Windsor — lead me to assume that he must, of course, be Canadian. I have to admit that I was quite shocked when Rob revealed to me that he was a fellow Michigander; he just seemed way too nice to be from the States. And when it was time for everybody to get the hell out of the bar, and proceed down the street to eat the world’s greasiest pizza, Rob was one of the few that you actually sought out to make sure you said goodbye to. A true testament to a truly great dude.

It goes without saying that Rob Kenna will truly be missed…but, one of the great things about music is that it always lives on, even after we are gone. So with that, we urge you to listen to the Farewells, and put a little piece of Rob in your heart. Rest in peace, Rob. — Ryan Allen

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Posted by: on August 25, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Juliana Hatfield, How To Walk Away (Ye Olde Records, 2008)

MP3: “Shining On”

It’s hard to believe Juliana Hatfield, the quintessential girl-next-door-with-a-guitar, is releasing her 10th studio album. Was it really 15 years ago that singing about her love/hate relationship with her sister made her an alt-rock darling? Indeed. How To Walk Away purportedly finds “Hatfield singing in top form.” True, her voice is as distinctively plaintive as ever, but the songs themselves are a bit problematic. The first two tracks, up-tempo yet wistful pop tunes, show Hatfield’s still got a couple of winners. Unfortunately, both unintentionally speak volumes about the rest of the record. “I finally wised up, but the fact remains, I stayed too long,” she tells us in the opener. Indeed, like a houseguest who can’t take a hint, it seems she has. In “Shining On” she sings, “Every setting sun goes shining on… On and on and on.” It’s like she’s singing about her own record. After the front-loaded punch, the rest of the album is painfully dull and uninspired. Lyrics are often clichéd and trite. “You’re so alone, you’re so alone. You wanna die and nobody knows,” she wails, like an edgy Hannah Montana. Even her duet with Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler flops, his vocals buried so deep in the mix that even if it was a good song, you can’t hear the guy. What could’ve been fairly strong if released as an EP, How To Walk Away seems to have morphed into an exceptionally dull record, partly due to Hatfield’s inability to understand irony. — Laura Witkowski

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Posted by: on August 25, 2008 at 11:34 am

Detour is giving away tickets for two shows at the Royal Oak Music Theatre: The Residents on October 14th and Atmosphere on October 27th. We know it’s far away, but enter to win now and put that shit on your calendar!

CLICK HERE for your chance to win!

Posted by: on August 25, 2008 at 10:39 am

As the record industry continues it’s slow decent into immanent death, Pittsburgh, PA’s Paul Mawhinney has been busy amassing what has become the world’s largest vinyl record archive. Now, with mom-and-pop shops, as well as most of the big boys, closing their doors because of declining record sales, Mawhinney is sadly being forced to follow suit and sell off his collection. His story might come off as slightly depressing, but it’s way too compelling to not be told. The moral? Buy more records, kids! (Thanks to Eric Weir for the link.) — Ryan Allen


Posted by: on August 21, 2008 at 3:04 pm

After taking a hiatus in 2007, the annual Detroit Summer Smash is back in action this weekend. Starting tonight, and lasting through Saturday, the Detroit Summer Smash features the hottest of the hot-shit locals — from rockers like Silverghost and the High Strung, to more eclectic fair from the likes of Prussia and Goudron — as well as the genuinely fun atmosphere that local music festivals tend to come jam-packed with.

Like other Summer Smashes in the past, the money raised at the even will go to a charity. This year, festival organizers are devoting all funds raised to a grant devoted to Detroit music and performance arts. The topic has caused a bit of debate on some of the local blogs, but still, local musicians are encouraged to apply for the grant money, which is designated to help pay for pesky expenses like touring, recording, and new equipment. Despite how you may feel about the charity, one thing is for sure: all the bands playing Summer Smash 2008 are great, and seeing them play alone will be well worth your money.

Speaking of which: The whole festival costs $16 for a weekend pass, $8 for the single Friday and Saturday shows, and a measly $5 for Thursday night’s show. It’s going down August 21-23 at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, located at 5141 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit, MI.

Peep the schedule, and get ready for another weekend of rock and roll fun in the D. — Ryan Allen

Thursday August 21st
9pm- Bird Gang
10pm- 4 Hour Friends
11pm- Friendly Foes

Friday August 22nd
9pm- Sons of the Gun
10pm- Hotness
11pm- Beggars
12am- Oblisk
12:30am- DJ Afterglow

Saturday August 23rd
2pm- Whistling School for Boys
3pm – OHTIS
4pm- Elle & The Fonts
5pm- Always 17
6pm- dinner break!!!
7pm- Prussia
8pm- Electric Fire Babies
9pm- Goudron
10pm- Dead Bodies
11pm- The High Strung
12am- Silverghost
12:30am- dancing sounds by Dave Shettler and Scott Zacharis!

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Posted by: on August 21, 2008 at 10:04 am

Death Vessel, Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us (Sup Pop, 2008)

MP3: “Bruno’s Torso”

Death Vessel is the alter-ego/one-man-band-with-several-rotating-players moniker of Providence singer songwriter Joel Thilbodeau. With a voice that is equal parts Elliott Smith and Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo, Death Vessel’s second album Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us is a journey of earnest, arresting, folk tales with an abstract bent. His high (and by most standards decidedly feminine) voice is frequently the focus of discussion, but his songs are what really deserve the spotlight. The album has a classic around-the-campfire feel — warm, inviting and immediately catchy. The instrumentation and arrangements lean toward folk and old, old country, but come off as something new entirely. Mr. Thilbodeau’s subject matter seems at once mysterious and familiar, like wandering into an antique store on Mars and finding the same dining set your grandmother used to have but in neon-blue. On “Obadiah In Oblivion” he sings, “In the dark he whistled over and over, aglow with solar powered sustain.” By the end of tune it’s clear what feeling “aglow with solar powered sustain” feels like. It feels like discovery and it is, indeed, precious enough. — Laura Witkowski

Death Vessel will be kicking off their record release tour in Detroit on August 29th @ the Magic Stick.

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Posted by: on August 20, 2008 at 2:45 pm

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Guess who the local rockers are — weighing in on the Kwame situation, behind the bronzer and fake mustaches — and we’ll give you, uh…well, we can’t give you anything, but guess anyway! — Ryan Allen


Posted by: on August 20, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Since Detour is primarily an online music magazine — with a little film and pop culture thrown in for good measure, of course — we have to assume that a lot of our readers are, in fact, musicians. So with that in mind, we’d like to introduce to you the social networking website known as Better Than the Van. Started by a nice fellow named Todd in Minneapolis, MN, BTTV is dedicated to helping bands find places to stay while out on the road. Sounds pretty simple right? Well, that’s because it is. Bands, as well as people with places to crash, are encouraged sign up for an account, create a profile, and viola…let the social networking craziness begin! Pretty soon you’ll be eating Taco Bell at three in the morning with strangers after a sweet rock show, and having no need to sleep in the van for four days straight while touring from Detroit down to Austin (trust us, we know how bad this sucks), or wherever you may be heading. Hey, BTTV? Ian MacKaye would be very proud. — Ryan Allen

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Posted by: on August 20, 2008 at 11:00 am

…Continue Reading >>

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Posted by: on August 20, 2008 at 9:00 am

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Let the new age of show promotion begin! — Ryan Allen

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