The Used – The Canyon
The Used have always been a screaming kid, fake emo, mall-core band at heart. For most of their musical journey they’ve utilized producer John Feldman for a grand total of five albums. Only one of their records was recorded with another, 2009’s Artwork, with Matt Squire. The Used were a safe-as-hell Hot Topic/Warped Tour band that had it made. The fact that frontman Bert McCracken dated Kelly Osbourne while The Osbournes was still a thing also helped launch The Used into the stratosphere. The Used never really took many chances as artists. They didn’t have to. But we all grow up, mature, and want to get better at what we do, or at least we ought to, right? And that’s just what The Used did with their latest release, The Canyon. They matured, they grew up, and they got better. A lot better.
Sometimes in order to get better you’ve got to take inventory within your organization and move some people around. People quit on their own sometimes and new people come in. That’s just how organizations – including bands – work. Very rarely in music does one group stay the same forever. It’s nice to see it happen, it’s romantic when it does, but it doesn’t happen all that often. So, Justin Shekoski comes in on guitar, replacing original guitar player Quinn Allman who says he’s on “hiatus.” While die-hard fans of The Used may be disappointed ’cause of Quinn’s departure, they ‘ought not be ’cause this Shekoski guy is way better, and this is the first time The Used – out of seven full length recordings – have ever recorded on actual reel-to-reel tape, so they can’t cheat in the studio now like have in the past. Quinn couldn’t have made it through the tracks on this album quite frankly. He’s just not that good. He was super sloppy on all the older digital recordings when they could correct all his mistakes, so just imagine how bad his work would be on analog where his mistakes couldn’t be corrected. Quinn was holding the band back. This album is evidence of that. Sorry, not sorry.
The Used also got better by ditching Feldman and getting Ross Robinson to produce instead. John Feldman was okay back when The Used were just starting out in 2002, but it’s 2018 now and to keep going back to the trough for the same thing over and over is not only insulting to your fans, it’s insulting to your own band as well. John Feldman produces products for sale, Ross Robinson produces artists. John Feldman might be nice to you and tell you what you want to hear, but Ross Robinson will throw a chair at you if you’re fucking around.
All I can say is: what a difference a good guitar player, a great producer, being real, taking chances, and growing up a little make. A band I once despised I can now tolerate.