Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Cultural Manifesto's Best of 2013

Posted By on Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni ba

Editor's Note: We filled NUVO with our Year in Review last week for our double issue, but we're not quite done yet. In no particular order, here's columnist Kyle Long's favorite musical moments of the year.

1. Bassekou Kouyate & Noura Mint Seymali at Lotus Fest - 9/25/13

Mauritanian legend Seymali opened the show with a scorching set of psychedelic desert blues, while Malian sensation Bassekou Kouyate ended the evening with a joyous dance party overflowing with stunning musical virtuosity.

2. Kristin Newborn at the Indianapolis Museum of Art - 4/26/13

I was excited to host Newborn for a solo performance at my IMA Final Fridays' series. Utilizing a variety of loop-inducing effects pedals, Newborn harmonized with a choir of her own voices in a style that reminded me of both Laurie Anderson and tUnE-yArDs. Unlike those artists, Newborn's vocals possess a depth of soulfulness unrivaled in most experimental or indie music.

3. Grupo Niche and Sonora Dinamita at Chispas - 3/9/13

I write a lot about the rich Westside music scene, and this was a highlight of 2013: a super fun and sold-out show by two of Colombia's most famous musical exports, cumbia innovators Sonora Dinamita and salsa masters Grupo Niche.

4. Chance the Rapper at Deluxe at Old National Centre - 12/4/13

Without an official label release under his belt, I didn't expect Chicago's Chance to have a sophisticated live presentation. And I was completely wrong. With a full band, Chance delivered one of the most high energy and carefully orchestrated hip-hop sets in recent memory. As an added bonus, Chicago footwork pioneers DJ Spinn and Rashad opened and closed the show.

5. Naz Khalid at Old Soul's tribute to Gil Scott-Heron, Jazz Kitchen - 5/29/13

Former Kool's Bazaar vocalist Naz Khalid possesses a deadly charisma matched with a razor­ - sharp, soulful voice. Her riveting interpretation of Heron's late period cover of the Robert Johnson classic blues "Me and the Devil" was a memorable high point of Old Soul's excellent multi-artist tribute to Heron.

6. Saul Williams at DO317 Lounge - 9/14/13

A broken air conditioner on a sweltering hot summer summer night created an uncomfortable atmosphere in the DO317 Lounge, but Williams' intense performance held the audience spellbound as he blurred the lines of spoken word and hip-hop. 

7. The Uprising at the Athenaeum - 3/8/13

Uprising provided my first chance to catch up - and - coming hip-hoppers like Sirius Blvck, Ejaaz, Azieb Abraha and Human, as well as the astonishing folk artist Myah Evans.

8. Cataracts Music Festival at Garfield Park - 8/24/13

This day long celebration of psychedelic vibes was my favorite Indianapolis music festival of 2013. Inexpensively priced, grassroots-minded and largely composed of local talent, Cataracts provides a valuable lesson for the more bloated and overpriced festival offerings that are appearing evermore frequently.

9. Omnimic with Mathew Davis at KI Eco Center

My favorite Friday night spot in Indy last year was a monthly open mic night hosted by Mathew Davis. Featuring a range of spoken word and music performance, Omnimic's line-up was full of surprises. You might catch a performance by NYC underground hip-hop heavyweights Rebel Diaz, or a blistering set from local hardcore unit Negative Vibes. Davis has a new weekly open mic gig lined up Sunday's at Fletcher Place Books in Fountain Square starting January 12.

10. Indy Jazz Fest

The Jazz Fest line-up has been pretty solid the last couple years, but this year was exceptional featuring a pair of important American music legends - New Orleans R&B pioneer Allen Toussaint and Latin music innovator Eddie Palmieri. See my interview with Palmieri here.

11. Kaleidoscope Jukebox - Infinite Reflection LP

A first listen to Carty's Infinite Reflection will immediately evoke comparisons to downtempo champs Thievery Corporation. Rightfully so, Carty has produced a remix for the group and his LP was released on a subsidiary of their ESL label. Like Thievery, Carty has a penchant for Asian/Eastern inspired melodies and instrumentation. But for my money Thievery Corporation haven't created anything as compelling as Carty's transcendent seven minute title track.

12. DMA - Pheel Phree LP

DMA's stream of consciousness creations are loose and free. But there's a method to DMA's madness. The most striking elements on Pheel Phree are Adamson's carefully layered and ethereal multi-tracked vocal harmonies. These moments strike in unlikely ways and suddenly shift listener's into a different dimension of sound - not unlike the heavenly choirs in the Philip Glass epic Einstein on the Beach.

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