In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, in honor of Independence Day in the United States, our favorite songs with the word “America” in their titles or lyrics.
The pre-chorus of Catherine Wheel’s bombastic “Phantom Of The American Mother” reads like a cheeky ’90s indictment of all things American Dream: “How you gonna feel / if Superman and Sonic Youth are fairy tales? / It’s time to face the truth,” and maybe that’s how it was intended. But it’s easy to look past that the dig in the midst of Adam And Eve, the band’s best—but decidedly not most popular—album. After two shoegazing classics—1992’s Ferment and 1993’s Chrome—the British band misfired pretty seriously by bringing too much rawk to 1995’s Happy Days. Adam And Eve, released two years later, channeled the band’s inner Pink Floyd instead, with a loose concept, sonic bookends, and Storm Thorgerson artwork. It didn’t really help with sales, but it did result in one of 1997’s best albums, and one that still holds up monumentally well. “Phantom” is generally a mellow, somber ride, pushed along by a vintage-sounding organ and that big chorus, delivered with eager, slightly evil aplomb by Rob Dickinson. (He’s Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden’s cousin, which explains the evil part.) Adam And Eve is the last great thing the band did—2000’s swan song Wishville was okay—but what a great thing it is, even if it’s trash-talking good ol’ U.S.A. a little bit. (And I must note that in digging around for this piece, I discovered that Dickinson now lives in sunny California, and restores vintage Porsches for a living, which is awesome.)