Alec Reviews Music: The Used show raw emotion in ‘The Canyon’

Alec Erickson

Imagine one of the worst years of your life.

Album cover for The Used's The Canyon
Photo Courtesy: iTunes

A year that is filled with, loss, suicide, depression and regret. Now, when you compile all the emotion into a record, you may get close to what The Used is trying to attempt with their latest release “The Canyon.”


Some may be quick to label this as just some other emo record, but as we label the good times in our lives as mountains and the bad as valleys, we find that The Used is at their best when they are writing about canyons.

Orem, Ohio-based band The Used formed all the way back in 2001. Ever since forming, they found some moderate success as a post-hardcore and emo outfit, but where they really stood out was their ability to write hit songs. While the band has had several incredibly successful records ever since the release of their debut self-titled back in 2002, they had suffered a minor lineup change after the release of “Imaginary Enemy” back in 2014. Founding member Quinn Allman was replaced by Justin Shekoski, and for a while it seemed unclear what would happen with the band. After spending a good part of 2017 recording, The Used looked to come out stronger than ever with their latest release, and that is where seventh studio album “The Canyon” comes in.

“The Canyon” is an impressive 17-track record that clocks in at around an hour and 20 minutes in length. From front to back, you get the sense of how much the band has grown as musicians as they are able to put a lot of raw emotion into this record. It starts with a somber and dark spoken word intro that really sets the tone for how serious the subject matter is, and from there things progress to the point you have a hardcore and intense record that keeps your attention.

Musically, we hear a lot of new influences in the band’s style as they play. From more upbeat and faster rhythms to dramatic and engaging guitar riffs, the band has really stepped up the energy on “The Canyon.”  When you listen to tracks like “Broken Windows” or “Vertigo Cave,” you hear just how more metallic sounding chords work in their favor. Progression isn’t as big of a role in tracks themselves as they are throughout the entire record, but what does stand out are the dance like rhythms on tracks like “Rise Up Lights” and “Upper Falls.” Songs are styled and mixed to fit their themes, and when things are dark, they create a atmosphere to reflect that. Songs like “Pretty Picture” start out as these almost innocent rock ballads, but as you really begin to listen, you hear how they are more of an anthem than anything else.

Lyrically, this is vocalist Bert McCracken’s strongest effort to date. While there is a lot of anger, fear and depression layered in this album, it is done in a tasteful and poetic manner that makes you really connect with the track. “Funeral Post” is a track that punches you in the gut as it focuses on the anger that one faces when a friend commits suicide. While there is a lot about McCracken’s friend committing suicide, “The Canyon” has tracks layered throughout that really walk through all the stages of grief. Lead track “For You” is focused on the depression aspect, and tracks like “Upper Falls” and “Broken Windows” deal with the anger. The Used is proving themselves to be complex and powerful as songwriters and using that skill to their advantage. Because of how this record is written, most people will unexpectedly stumble upon a song that really connects with them as this is a record that fits into any bad situation.

Should you listen to it? Absolutely!

What The Used have manage to create with “The Canyon” is a unexpected and brilliant attempt at tackling a very real and serious subject. It comes from a genuine place, and that is because this all happened. The Used haS released one of the strongest records of the year, and for that reason alone it should be worth a listen through.

More about The Used:

  • Most of the band’s records have gone gold or platinum in multiple countries.
  • The band signed with Reprise in 2002 and then Hopeless Records in 2012.
  • Lead vocalist Bert McCracken featured on songs by Goldfinger, Linkin Park and My Chemical Romance

Collegian Reporter Alec Erickson can be reached at or on twitter @CTV_Ace