American High – ‘U.N. Article 14’

From Sacremento, California, punk band, American High have released their new album, ‘U.N. Article 14’. The group make catchy 60s infused music, all with a social consciousness that’s been missing in a lot of modern music. All proceeds from the album go to the Sacremento Food Bank and Family Services.

Released last December, ‘U.N. Article 14’s the second release from American High, the follow on from their previous album, ‘Bones In The Attic, Flowers In The Basement’, which was released in 2017. They received much acclaim for the record, as well as a great deal of radio coverage, thanks to a series of interview features on the Jimmy Star Show. Kiera Hood, of Skope Magazine, praised the band’s

strong harmonized vocals that not only differentiate American High from other bands but also agree with the fearlessness in their political statements and beliefs.

The eight track album, ‘U.N. Article 14’ reminds us sonically of They Might Be Giants, with a dash or two of Green Day. The songs are all very politically motivated, following in the established tradition of other California bands, and an encouraging glimpse into what is possible to achieve with a public platform. Second song on the album, ‘Cheye Calvo’, examines the circumstances behind the drug raid in 2008, on Cheye Calvo, who was at the time the Mayor of Berwyn Heights, in Prince George’s County, Maryland. As it says on the caption of the video:

Do you support drug prohibition?

Are you aware of what is being done in your name? In order to enforce drug laws?

What happened to Cheye Calvo happened to 100 other people too. In the past 24 hours. Over 100 times per day, police serve ‘no knock’ search warrants on people’s homes. They don’t always get the right house. The people inside don’t always make it out alive. The police themselves don’t always make it out alive. And sometimes, the ‘flash band’ grenade they toss into the home lands in the crib of a baby.

We think drugs are a bad idea. But police blasting in and killing people in the middle of the night in their beds is so much worse. And those are our choices. There isn’t a third.

You are either okay with what happened to Cheye Calvo and his family or your are against drug prohibition.

The song recently won the PureM Music Award for Best US Music Video and is currently seeing airplay on BBC Radio 6.

In their own words, American High write “catchy tunes with dark themes”. They don’t mess about, they stand up for what they believe in. The very title of their album, ‘U.N. Article 14’, addresses the following:

Liberty and security of person

1. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others:

a) Enjoy the right to liberty and security of person;

b) Are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty.

2. States Parties shall ensure that if persons with disabilities are deprived of their liberty through any process, they are, on an equal basis with others, entitled to guarantees in accordance with international human rights law and shall be treated in compliance with the objectives and principles of the present Convention, including by provision of reasonable accommodation.

Songs like the afore-mentioned ‘Cheye Calvo’, and the title track, and others like ‘Belly’, address issues that affect each of us. ‘Belly’, for instance, is about the western world’s obsession with eating too much food – and even so this isn’t distributed equally. It’s an upbeat track and it would be easy to lose the context of what the song is about, except that the band makes the message very clear:

“We think songs are more interesting when they can be seen in different ways.  We shun the tired INTRO-CHORUS-INTRO-CHORUS-LEAD-CHORUS-EXIT blueprint.  We prefer freeform songs.  We tried to make each song completely unique.  With a totally different sound for each.  Weird chords with weird changes, weird blueprints, weird harmonies and backwards leads.  Happy singers singing dark songs of love lost, the costs of constant war, and a scream into the night.  WAKE UP!”

Find out more about this incredibly socially conscious band online on their official website, and Facebook. You can stream their music on Spotify and SoundCloud, and download it from CD Baby and Reverbnation.

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