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Album Review: American High’s U.N. Article 14

Pop-punk and 60’s music, can it mix?

Kevin Ashley

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This one’s another new one. American High is a rock band from Sacramento, California, making “catchy songs about real life injustices” and “freeform songs”. They are listed as 60’s and punk inspired rock, for fans of the Kinks, Green Day, Blink-182, and The Sonics. I never got into pop-punk, as I prefer the harder side like crust and hardcore, but their style seem like it could be an interesting mixture, so let’s check them out.

First up is the track, “Second Sister”. I can definitely hear the 60’s influence in this one, it’s like the Beach Boys mixed with the Ramones. Simplistic punk chords and lyrics, but a jangly sound with tambourines. Huh. So far, kind of interesting but hasn’t grabbed me fully. What’s next?

“Cheye Calvo” has a music video with poignant imagery. Past the midway point, there is some interesting psychedelic guitar chords, but again it’s the same sound as the previous song. The upbeat sound contrasts with the lyrics, which describe the woes of the Drug War.

“I Can’t Change” begins differently with some acoustic guitar strumming, and transitions to a straightforward rock song. The tambourine is heavy in this one, making this a pretty decent 60’s light rock song.

“Test Pilot” features a guitar bass line, and is a straightforward rock song again. However, this one has a deeper main riff, almost stoner rock in flavor. The tempo is fast, like the previous three songs, and ends with a meandering guitar riff with some mild psychedelic touches.

“Fairfield, CA” opens with the acoustic strumming, transitioning again like “I Can’t Change”, but with crooning pop-punk sensibilities in the vocals. I find them a little annoying, to be honest. There’s a strumming solo section in the latter half, which closes out the song.

“1.17.61” weirdly reminds me of the movie, Napoleon Dynamite, and the dusty, offbeat environment it portrays. Maybe there was a song in the movie like this one? Musically, it’s acoustic strumming and note-picking, without a percussion section. This definitely matches up with the “freeform” label the band mentioned.

“U.N. Article 14” opens with the classic “one, two, three, go” and simple punk chord intro. This is actually the most “punk” song on the album, combining the riffs, drumming, and pop-punk vocals into a short flurry of angst. Fans of pop-punk are sure to like this one.

“Bunny” closes the album with the strumming again, similar to “Fairfield, CA”. Lyrically, I think it’s about rescuing animals from exploitation, which is a great topic. There’s a short guitar solo in this one, which puts it above “Fairfield, CA”.

American High’s U.N. Article 14 is a short, but mildly interesting release that deals with political topics applicable to today. Pop-punk fans should get a good listen out of it, but to me it was like being hit by a pillow. Aggressive, yet soft and approachable. I guess pop-punk just isn’t my thing, but I can totally see a whole section of people who will love this.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Kevin is a graduate from Central Washington University, where he was awarded a Bachelors degree in Professional and Creative Writing. He currently lives in Silverdale, Washington, where he explores new food and drink, goes to concerts, and works on personal projects.

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