Playlist of the Week: Steven Hyden of The A.V. Club

Photo courtesy Steven HydenSteven Hyden, Milwaukee city editor of The A.V. Club, shares five songs he’s been loving lately — and also explains his quick yet surefire way to determine whether or not someone is a jerk.

Loudon Wainwright III – “Motel Blues”

“Loudon Wainwright III is probably best known these days as Rufus Wainwright’s father, but he’s actually a pretty great songwriter in his own right. ‘Motel Blues’ is about a traveling musician who’s trying to talk a young girl into coming to his hotel room. It’s one of my favorite songs of all time — I have a soft spot for tunes that can be really funny and incredibly depressing at the same time, and this is one of the best examples I can think of.”

Sunset Rubdown – “Idiot Heart”

“Sunset Rubdown’s ‘Dragonslayer’ is one of my top five albums of the year, and this is my favorite track off the record. I just think it builds really well, and the guitar part reminds me of the early ’80s U2 records I grew up on. That’s all I ask for from a song — just build well and remind me of something I already like.”

Beach House – “Gila”

“I think this is the most-played song on my iTunes, which is strange because ‘Gila’ makes anyone who hears it desperately want to have sex and I only listen to iTunes at work. And I’m pretty sure I’ve never had sex at work. I could be wrong about that, though.”

John Phillips – “April Ann”

“Like Loudon Wainwright III, John Phillips is mostly remembered these days for being a father — namely, the father who had sex with his daughter, Mackenzie Phillips. If you can set that whole messy incest business aside, Phillips’ albums with The Mamas & the Papas in the late ’60s and his early ’70s solo work are worth seeking out. ‘April Ann’ comes from Phillips’ first solo record, and it’s a really pretty country-rock number with terrible, easy-to-ignore lyrics.”

Phil Collins – “Against All Odds”

“Here’s a simple test to determine whether someone is an ass****: Ask him or her for an opinion on Phil Collins’ ‘Against All Odds.’ If the person laughs or mocks Phil Collins, he or she is an ass****.”