11 January 2019 (released)
30 January 2019
Despite the fact that it's home to tens of millions of people from a vast array of cultural backgrounds, the mention of the 'SoCal' sound brings to mind a very clear picture. Music that obviously feels sun-drenched, somewhat carefree even when addressing serious issues, bouncy and light. The soundtrack to skating in an empty pool. Something between Green Day and Sublime.
That's where American High have firmly affixed themselves. The four-piece may not technically hail from Southern California (Sacramento) but their calling card has a 714 area code. To their credit, the group does take musical cues from some '60s sources and the lyrics do go beyond the SoCal archetype of smoking two joints and masturbating. Eisenhower references and odes sympathetic to asylum seekers show that American High are smarter than they're aesthetic leads on.
The opener 'Second Sister' showcases this '60s flair with an early Beach Boys sensibility. Boogie guitars and harmonized vocals bring to mind the Wilsons and co. replacing the Beach Boys “ooh-wee-ooh-oooh” with the classic California punk refrain of “naawh-naawh-na-naawh”. The single 'Cheye Calvo' leads in with a classic of all classics pop-punk 4-chord and before slipping into off-beat ska. They detail the story of the Maryland mayor whose house was raided for receiving a package of 15kgs of marijuana. The raid was later deemed a mistake and the police department was criticized for lacking a proper search warrant, excessive force, and failure to conduct a proper background investigation of the home being raided. Plus they killed his two dogs. A tale that seems insane in a time when Canada and most major US states have legalized marijuana. The title track 'U.N. Article 14' also ventures into political territory, referencing the U.N. article concerning asylum seekers. The song approaches the controversial topic empathetically from the point of view of one of these refugees.
American High's U.N.Article 14 holds the line for the legions still proudly rockin' their Vans. The music isn't breaking any moulds and the vocals run from tight, cohesive harmonies to shaky, uneven lines. However, the fact that they're using their platform to elevate thinking about critical world events is to be commended.