American High Comes With It on New Album U.N. Article 14

By Deuce

American High makes a convincing argument for the enduring relevance of instruments—whether live or recorded, acoustic or electric—on its rollercoaster of an album U.N. Article 14 which, with its release on Christmas Day of last year, starts 2019 off the right way.

More than likely, the quartet from Sacramento, California had no intentions to stake such claims with its vivacious eight-song release. Nevertheless, U.N. Article 14 goes a long way towards exposing the flaws of programmed, pre-recorded music genres—most notably EDM and what passes these days for rap.

The general premise of the latter was always perfection of groove, of melody, of some combinations of sounds that was so right you wanted to hear it over and over again with the biggest bass you could find. But as that perfection became too difficult to sustain, or was simply swallowed up in the over-saturation of recording “artists”, it gradually settled into the same plodding overtones with slightly different lyrics. EDM was originally supposed to offer an alternative, but quickly fell prey to monotonous drums and smaller and smaller variations of what was largely the same theme.

There’s no such tediousness to the rock n roll on U.N. Article 14, largely because of the foursome’s respective mastery of electric bass, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, and drums. The collection typifies the best of such hip hop classics as Ghostface Killah’s (of the Wu-Tang Clan) masterpiece Supreme Clientele, or Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde. U.N. Article 14 moves at a breakneck pace both within and between songs, catapulting listeners from one sensation to the next.

The effectiveness of the actual playing of instruments is largely responsible for the fun, youthful, undeniable energy that surges and crescendos, yet rarely ever tapers off. The group shifts tempos in mid-tune, excels at the transitions—particularly with inspired performances from T.M. on the drums and F.M. on the bass—and breaks out some infectious hooks on cuts like “Fairfield, CA” and “Second Sister”. “Fairfield” is arguably the best number of the set and would likely have been the initial single if the group wasn’t so politically oriented. Instead, those honors went to “Cheye Calvo”, which alternates between socially conscious lyrics and vocal inflections of pure joy.

With innovative songwriting powering each of these tunes, hopefully American High will crank out another LP before the year is done, and in the subsequent years to come, as well.

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