In this week’s instalment of What’s Going On, we’ve got a review of punk supergroup OFF!’s recent show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto. Emo stalwarts The Used and rising Canadian folk superstar Leith Ross both dropped new albums, so we’ll fill you in on those. Plus, hot new releases from Chxrry22, Greta Van Fleet, and Netta. As always, if you dig what you hear, be sure to stream and follow the artists.
The Used – You know them. You love them. The Used are back with their tenth studio album Toxic Positivity, out now via Big Noise. As you’ve probably gathered from the attention-grabbing album title, the veteran emo band explores and examines mental health and well-being in a way that only they can. A concept album of sorts, Toxic Positivity takes listeners on the emotional rollercoaster of a “day-in-the-life journey of a depressed, anxiety-ridden person.” The opening suite of “Worst I’ve Ever Been,” “Numb,” and “I Hate Everybody” depict both the sadness and bitter cynicism of depression. By the time you reach songs like “Top of the World” and the perhaps deceptively titled “Giving Up” at the end of the album, things start to look up. The album is so introspective that it’s even a challenging listen for singer Bert McCracken. Explaining more, McCracken states: “This record is quite tough for me to listen to because it’s a reflection of times in my life that have been some of my lowest ever.” If you’re curious to hear these songs live, catch The Used and Pierce The Veil on their co-headlining The Creative Control Tour. They’ll be in Toronto on June 2nd.
Listen to The Used’s new single “Giving Up” below.
Leith Ross – Winnipeg singer-songwriter Leith Ross is out now with their debut album, To Learn. The folk sensation was met with pretty universal acclaim with their independent Motherwell EP in 2020, receiving rave reviews for lyrics that speak for this current generation. Their releases since have catapulted the singer into relative stardom. To Learn is sure to keep that star rising as the singer from a small town outside of Ottawa tackles angst, sexuality, and self-realization. The album also sees Leith playing with pop and rock in the framework of their established folk sound. Speaking on what went into To Learn, Leith Ross says: “This debut record o’ mine was written during a couple of major changes in my life. It’s about going through big transitions. Moving, losing, and making friends, deep hurt and betrayal, real and steadfast love, and the years in which I felt like I was truly growing up and becoming something different. Mostly it’s about learning. About myself, about the world, about people, about love. The kind of love I want to foster and nurture until my dying day. To live is to learn and to learn is the best. At least that’s the gist of it.”
Listen to Leith Ross’ new single “To Learn” below.
Chxrry22 – Toronto-based R&B newcomer Chxrry22 is keeping her momentum going with the release of her new single “Worlds Away.” An audio exercise in dichotomy, the track’s plaintive and almost diary entry-like lyrics contrast beautifully against the upbeat DJ Camper production and Chxrry22’s syrupy vocals. With releases like this, it’s no surprise that Chxrry22 holds the distinction of being the first female signed to The Weeknd’s XO Records. Explaining the meaning of “Worlds Away,” Chxrry22 states: “I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for the last year and it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions- and of course, I really wanted to take those feelings and put them in a song. Sometimes, even as badly as you want something to work, there are factors like distance and time that come into play – and you need to accept it for what it is. But, just because this is a sad situation it doesn’t mean the music has to be.”
Listen to Chxrry22’s new single “Worlds Away” below.
Greta Van Fleet – Michigan rockers Greta Van Fleet just dropped their new track, “Sacred The Thread.” Following up “Meeting The Master,” “Sacred The Thread” serves as the latest taste of what listeners can expect from the band’s forthcoming album, Starcatcher. “Sacred The Thread” eschews GVF’s signature bombast in favor of a haunting melody. Frontman Josh Kiszka’s vocals stand out in particular, sounding more grounded and fleshed out than ever before. Speaking on the Starcatcher writing process, guitarist Jake Kiszka says: “We didn’t really have to force or be intense about writing, because everything that happened was very instinctual. If anything, the record is our perspective, and sums up where we are as a group and individually as musicians.” Starcatcher is due out on July 21st via Lava/Republic Records/Universal Music Canada.
Listen to Greta Van Fleet’s new single “Sacred The Thread” below.
Netta – During the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final, Israeli pop sensation Netta busted out her cover of Dead or Alive’s hi-NRG classic “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record).” The performance marked a full circle moment of sorts as Netta catapulted to global stardom by winning Eurovision in 2018 for Israel with her song “Toy.” While remaining faithful to the melody of the early techno classic, Netta’s rendition also allows for her soulful vocals to shine through the electronic instrumentation. If you can’t get enough, Netta will spin you right round on her ‘Wonderful and Great’ World Tour, kicking off this September in Europe before hitting the US in November.
Listen to Netta’s rendition of “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” below.
OFF! – This past Tuesday, punk supergroup OFF! touched down on Toronto’s Lee’s Palace for a highly anticipated show. Originally scheduled for last November, the first leg of the band’s North American tour was postponed. Fans packed the famed venue in the heart of the Annex (Bloor and Bathurst), eagerly anticipating seeing the band. The night got off to a raucous start thanks to the ferocious Texan band Die Spitz. OFF! then took the stage and delivered a relentless set with every song pretty much running into the next. The break-neck pace was more than welcomed by the crowd who just wanted to rage. Slight sound issues aside, there were a few tense moments between the band (and a couple of overzealous concertgoers) and the guy working the mixing board, OFF! were more than worth the wait.
Check out OFF!’s “Kill To Be Heard” from the band’s 2022 album Free LSD below.