Punk rock and politics have long gone hand in hand. Sometimes the relationship is loose, a general distrust of government or desire for anarchy. Other times, punk has mobilized against leaders and candidates to fight injustices or policies. The punk landscape has always been rich with political songs and political bands, whether the brash Sex Pistols cry for “Anarchy in the UK” or NoFX’s anti-Bush album War on Errorism. While, perhaps, popular punk influenced music has been a bit less on the political side, the last few years have begun to inspire some more outspoken cries from some of the older and younger bands in the scene.
One band that has never been shy to speak out against injustice or to “get political” is Sacramento pop punk act American High. Their first single from their latest album – UN Article 14 – dropped over the Summer and highlight the crazy story of Berwyn Height, Maryland mayor Cheye Calvo. Calvo’s life was turned upside from a drug raid that included extremely excessive force. When the dust settled, it turned out he did nothing wrong, but his family was subjected to serious trauma. The story got some national attention, but not nearly enough… at leas tin the eyes of American High, who decided to shed more light on the poor decision making and abuse of force of the police department.
The album is littered with other powerful stories and calls to action, set to a pop infused sound that blends punk, surf rock, classic rock, and modern alternative music. The album opener, a personal favorite of mine, is entitled “Second Sister” and has a classic Beach Boys vibe to it. The surf inspired pop rock track with a punk flair is reminiscent of The Ramones, The Queers, and Joe Strummer’s pre-Clash squat rock outfit, The 101ers. It’s upbeat and danceable, while still delivering a socially aware message. This blend of social and political conscience with pop hooks and toe tapping rhythms is what American High is all about.
Listen to the album on Spotify below, then check out americanhighband.com for more music and info.
Written by Justin “thepaintedman” Harlan