The Powerful Political Pop Punk of AMERICAN HIGH

American High released their album Bones in the Attic, Flowers in the Basement last year and began a legacy of a band that not only writes great rock tunes with punk sensibilities and fun pop hooks, but also puts their money where their mouth is. Every penny they made from the album went to the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, an important organization from their hometown. In showing their real desire to make a difference, their politically and socially charged lyrics were given truer and deeper meaning.

Their latest track is named after former Berwyn Heights mayor, Cheye Calvo. It documents his story or being targeted due to shoddy police work and his family suffering because of overzealous law enforcement officials. In other words, this mayor received a large box of marijuana, unbeknownst to him, and had his home raided because of it. Officers shot and killed his dogs, held guns to his family’s heads, and trashed his family home. It later leaked that their investigation was incomplete and their warrant wasn’t obtained appropriately. The legacy of this raid is part of the legacy of America’s long fought and consistently lost “War on Drugs”.

The band includes this in their explanation of the music video:

Do you support drug prohibition? Are you aware of what is being done in your name? In order to enforce drug laws? What happened to Cheye Calvo happened to 100 other people too. In the past 24 hours. Over 100 times per day, police serve ‘no knock’ search warrants on people’s homes. They don’t always get the right house. The people inside don’t always make it out alive. The police themselves don’t always make it out alive. And sometimes, the ‘flash band’ grenade they toss into the home lands in the crib of a baby.

We think drugs are a bad idea. But police blasting in and killing people in the middle of the night in their beds is so much worse. And those are our choices. There isn’t a third.

You are either okay with what happened to Cheye Calvo and his family or your are against drug prohibition.

What they call “drug prohibition” and I call the “War on Drugs” is the government’s failed attempts to rid our nation of drugs. We face some of the worst drug crises in American history today with what we’ve dubbed the “Opioid Epidemic” and it’s truly frightening. Yet, a renewed militant approach, represented current powers in place like Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence, is upon us and is easily just as frightening.

If Calvo, a straight man with a Caucasian complexion and Mayor of a community, can be treated like this, just imagine what happens daily to our country’s poor and minority populations. Calvo was able to fight legally for damages, but so many can’t afford that. This song is call to arms with sing-a-long choruses, pop hooks, and a cry out that asks everyone to give a fuck!

Fans of Green Day, The Queers, and The Vandals should check this band out. The music is catchy, blending that political ethos of the socially conscious punks with 60s pop rock aesthetics. Here’s hoping this Sacramento outfit makes their way out East soon, but until then check out the video and tap you toes. Perhaps this is the perfect cure for NoFX fans like myself filling the hole left by refusing to listen to them for at least a little while… I mean, it’s doing the trick for me.

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