Bold political messages masked by euphoric pop punk melodies offer a spot of sunshine in trying times in American High’s UN Article 14
‘U.N. Article 14’ – American High
What do you get when you mix the heaviness of punk with the light hearted, toe-tapping harmonies of 60s inspired rock, a dash of Californian charm, wrapped in a cozy blanket of bold and passionate political messages? You get Sacramento rockers’ American High’s sophomore album U.N. Article 14. Named after Article 14 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution,” the band show us they’re intention is not to sugar coat their beliefs. Furthermore, all proceeds from the album go to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). Not only are they spreading positive messages of change and compassion through their music, they spread it through their actions as well.
So let’s get into what makes this record so special.
The album kicks off with a short and sweet rock tune with a tempo that mimics a freight train and 60s pop rock inspired harmonies that fuse together in a way that brings to mind the likes of R.E.M. and Blink-182. American High is like a harder, more politically charged Bowling for Soup– the jovial, upbeat melodies make you feel good, but the messages will make you want to fight.
The following song, “Cheye Calvo” is where the politicized lyrics truly take flight.
Cheye Calvo what did he do wrong
he did nothing wrong
Cheye Calvo you’re not the
only one paying the cost
Based off a true story, the song tells the tale of a Maryland mayor whose family was held at gunpoint by police in a wrongful drug raid. Musically, the song diverts slightly from strictly pop-punk and takes a relaxed, reggae-punk fusion turn.
Further in, we start to see that social justice isn’t the only agenda in mind as the record turns from politics to romance in the innocent love song “Fairfield, CA”.
Who’s that girl from Fairfield, California
Who’s that girl her eyes like look like the sun
American High wraps us in the intensity of infatuation for a girl that might as well be a complete stranger. The vibrant, acoustic ditty creates a full on “Indie movie, running through the grass” moment as luminous harmonies muse over the mysterious girl.
Who’s that girl I can still
smell the way her room smells
But to my shame i don’t know
if i can remember her name
Taking yet another turn, we are thrown into the soft, emotional ballad “1.17.61”. Named after the date of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell address denouncing hateful ideology, the song bleeds sorrow and longing for a brighter world.
“Pain’s the deepest part of you, there is no cure you’ll never be immune,” muses lead singer, Doug Terry’s nasally grit, “If I don’t believe it is it true?”
It almost feels like an act of resignation or one last cry for help. Just when all hope is soon to be lost, American High launches us into yet another politically charged and pounding melody in the album’s title track “U.N. Article 14”– a deceivingly sunny tune about an incredibly dark topic. The song tells the story of a family attempting to seek refuge by crossing the border.
These dark messages woven into glittering pop punk melodies and radiant harmonies remind us that it is the dark times where it becomes the most crucial to seek out the brightness in the world. American High’s U.N. Article 14 is one of the brightest spots around.
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📸 © 2019 art © Skyler Brown