Pazz & Jop 2011: Michael Tedder On Fucked Up's Majesty, Danny Brown's Cunning Skills, And The Joy Formidable's Outro Power

To supplement this year's Pazz & Jop launch, Sound of the City asked a few critics to expand on the reasonings behind their voting. Here, Michael Tedder breaks down his entire ballot, and along the way he talks about about the operatic heights of Fucked Up, the shredding ability of Annie Clark and Ritzy Bryan, and the power of the "boof."

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Fucked Up, David Comes to Life (30 points): I was starting to get a sense of the way the wind was blowing for this year's roundup, and I'm generally aware that aggressive music, no matter how smart and inventive, has a ceiling for critical support. (I should point out that I submitted my ballot before the Spin endorsement.) So, just like I did last year with Titus Andronicus' The Monitor (I will not accept the idea that anyone this decade wrote a better album about America now, or a better album period than that), I went all in, points wise, to try to get my favorite album in to the top ten. Like last year, I failed, and I regret nothing. Anyway, people focusing on the intentionally confusing plot of this rock opera are not paying enough attention to the operatic arrangements (that term is not used as loosely as you imagine) Mike Haliechuk and company are offering up here, like some bizarre amalgam of Crass, Queen and Chavez. Also, I still don't know how Veronica died, and I'm surprised that in these #OWS days no one is discussing the working-class fatigue subtext ("those better days have passed us by") on display here.

tUnE-yArDs, w h o k i l l (20 points): I really struggled between putting this or Fucked Up first on my list. I think this has more moments of sheer "oh, this is what music can do now" that no one matched all year, but it wasn't a top-to-bottom triumph like David. In a year in which "My Country" ("When they have nothing/why do you have something") exists, anyone complaining about the lack of protest music should be publicly shamed for their laziness.

St. Vincent, Strange Mercy (15 points): You have no idea how many times this year I wanted to pitch a think piece about how nearly all the greatest rock guitarists nowadays (Annie Clark, Marnie Stern, Carrie Brownstein, Marissa Paternoster, Jenn Wasner, Amy Klein, Ritzy Bryan) are ladies, and somehow tie it in to various reports about how women are currently dominating the modern workforce while men fall behind and, I don't know, somehow tie in all the current limp-dick folk/ reverb shit that tries to substitute a general feeling of being pretty for an actual song. To my credit, I have always quickly realized why this is a fucking terrible idea. Anyway, St. Vincent albums still don't murder quite the way her live show does, this is still her most refined balance of menace and poise, and I suspect I'm not the only person who winces at the line "I played dumb when I knew better/tried to hard to be clever."

Das Racist, Relax (5 points): Combination hilarious dudes and insightful social critics.

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