The Best of 2014: Broad City, St. Vincent and More Look Back

Comedians and musicians break down the culture that inspired them over the past 12 months

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St. Vincent
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St. Vincent

The First Bad ManMiranda July's latest novel is about a woman in her early forties who lives mostly in her head, but finds herself in strained and abusive relationships — but not abusive in that kind of textbook, sleeping-with-the-enemy kind of way. Really, really odd ones. The main character is so sad and pathetic, but in a way that's relatable. It's so heartbreaking. It rends you apart to read it. I'm a fan of everything she does — her films, her short stories, her performance art. There's a lot of superimposing emotions onto inanimate things that she does, in a way where I think, "Oh my God, I do that too. I've never heard somebody write that down." Just strange little passing thoughts or fixations.

Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love: I've heard the whole album already and I have to say, I've loved so many Sleater-Kinney records but I think this is my favorite. Everybody's so on point. Corin's voice sounds so urgent and Carrie's guitar playing is super guttural and acrobatic, and Janet is just slaying the drum set. And then the songs themselves just have so much heart to them. I feel like this record is such a crowning jewel in their legacy. I first started listening to them when I bought All Hands on the Bad One when I was in high school. I remember trying to figure out all of the songs on it, but I couldn't figure out any of them! And later I learned it was because they tuned down to, like C sharp or something, so everything was just out of range. But I remember feeling so excited that people were giving a voice to this frustration and alienation that I felt. It's just powerful, heavy music.

Ryan Trecartin's video installations: I discovered his work last year at the Venice Biennale. It was a very nice trip, David Byrne and I had wrapped up the Love This Giant tour and the Biennale was going on so David and I and a couple of friends went to Venice for a few days. It's just a mad art dash. I was watching this video art installation that just included all of the strange modern pieces that exist on the Internet, kind of channeled and filtered through these people of ambiguous gender and sexuality in bizarre costumes, speaking to each other in soundbites. But the soundbites were totally nonsensical. It's very great, you can see some of his videos online. I just love how it's taking the language of idiotic predatory psychic detritus and then kind of turning it on its ear and creating a whole new language. It's basically where we are in culture. We're not that far off. It's a little absurdist, but not really!

The Dance of Reality: I think this film is Jodorowsky's very autobiographical story, and it's brilliant. It's a celebration of beautiful ugliness. The mother character is kind of hysterical and coddling, and she sings opera. There's a scene where a black train of bedraggled mourners with holes in their black umbrellas walk through the desert and it's just so visually beautiful. It's just incredible. He's a very surrealist director. I tried to watch his film Holy Mountain on an airplane and this guy seated next to me was a businessman in a golf shirt and it just became increasingly uncomfortable to watch the video next to this guy. The flight attendants kind of skip you on the champagne handout.

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