Album Review: American High – U.N. Article 14
For a quick bit of context, “Article 14” refers to a section of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating that people should be free from persecution. (It’s perhaps worth noting – and more than a bit troubling – that a 2004 court case in the United States concluded that the 1948 declaration isn’t binding on the USA. Anyway … to the music.) You may have guessed that this is a politically-themed album, and you’d be sorta right. American High is a Sacramento, California based group. And on its second album the group combines a number of stylistic elements to craft an album that will have listeners bopping along even if they don’t pick up on the lyrical messages. The group’s tight and high vocal harmony is a primary selling point, but the muscular instrumental backing that chugs along under it provides plenty of energy. The most obvious musical touchstone here is Green Day, but American High seems possessed of an even stronger pop sensibility. “Cheye Calvo” adds what can only be called world-music elements into an otherwise straightforwardly pop-punk ditty. These guys have catchy musical ideas, and they’re expressed with more stylistic variety than one might expect. A cheery love song, “Fairfield, Ca.” is a highlight of the eight-song set. By modern-day measure, U.N. Article 14 ought to be classified as an EP due to its brevity. But quality wins over quantity every time. A fun listen.
About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.