Here at Texas Monthly, we love Texas culture, both the classic and the new. On a walk through our office halls, you might find a staffer writing to the sounds of Willie Nelson or spot a dog-eared Molly Ivins anthology on a bookshelf, but you could also encounter an editor revising to the sounds of Khruangbin or a fact-checker theorizing about the latest Texan to grace the stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Sharing our new finds and obsessions with other curious Texans is one of the best parts of the job. We hope you enjoy these recommendations as much as we do—and let us know your new favorite finds in the comments.
Lizzo’s Upbeat Collaboration with Missy Elliott in “Tempo”
Released ahead of her highly anticipated debut album, Cuz I Love You (April 19), Lizzo’s latest single, “Tempo,” does not disappoint. The body-positive anthem, which features a verse from rapper Missy Elliott, features an infectious backbeat with fun lyrics and inventive rhymes. “Thick thighs save lives, call me little buttercup / All means necessary / My ass is not an accessory.” Lizzo, who was raised in Houston and calls herself a “Texas girl,” already set up the range of her upcoming album with the upbeat “Juice” and the emotional ballad “Cuz I Love You,” and “Tempo” adds some bass to the mix. The unapologetically confident vocalist is on the come up, but it won’t be long before you hear her everywhere.
—Cat Cardenas, writer-at-large
Young Sheldon, a Wunderkind Growing Up in East Texas
From NASA to Dell, Texas has more than its fair share of brilliance, so it’s no surprise that the quirkiest genius on TV has his roots in the Lone Star State. Set in 1989 in East Texas, Young Sheldon follows the childhood of Sheldon Cooper from CBS’s The Big Bang Theory as the nine-year-old wunderkind experiences bullying, family drama, and friendships. Set in the fictional town of Medford, the show is full of East Texas references, from the accents to the Railroad Depots that inspire Sheldon’s love for trains to Ore City native Montana Jordan, who plays Sheldon’s older brother. Although the show lacks the colorful gang from The Big Bang Theory, it makes up for it with an honest perspective on topics from evolution to faith. (In the third episode of the second season, Sheldon tries to convince his mother of the existence of God when her faith wavers.) Most of all, the show gets one thing right about East Texas: the importance of family, no matter how unique each member may be.
—Jessica Reyes, intern
Danny Schmidt’s Poetic Melodies on Standard Deviation
I have to admit that when I hear new music, I hear the music first; the lyrics slowly come into focus over time. Based on that alone, I fell hard for Danny Schmidt’s new LP Standard Deviation (March 9). From the warm acoustic guitar and lush layers of vocals and strings to the progressions and melodies that easily prompt an emotional response, I’d love the record even if Schmidt never stepped up to the microphone. But he does, and that’s what makes Standard Deviation so amazing. It takes great effort to be poetic and not sound forced, and his command seems effortless. The opening track, Just Wait Till They See You, is a love song to his newborn daughter, marveling at all the adventure that awaits her. The words play out like a nursery rhyme: “Her lips keep moving but she makes no sound / She’s got so much left to say” and “I’ve seen the redwoods and the northern lights / Well just wait ’til they see you.” On the title track, he narrates a complex love story in which unlikely subjects navigate fear, societal pressure, bigotry, and, as Danny Schmidt describes it, “how sexy a smart mind can be when it’s set totally and wildly free.”
—Brian Standefer, multimedia producer
Creative Exhibits at the Newly Renovated Bullock Museum
Over spring break, my twelve-year-old and I finally got the chance to check out the newly renovated first-floor history gallery at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, which debuted in December. Gone are the simple exhibits that told the state’s story as if they were pulled out of an elementary school textbook. In their place is the sweeping “Becoming Texas: Our Story Begins Here,” a modern, sophisticated examination of the state’s origins, going back thousands of years (the oldest item on display is a 16,000-year-old stone point that was excavated from the Gault archeological site, about forty miles north of Austin). The centerpiece is the ill-fated La Belle, the French ship that sunk in Matagorda Bay in 1686; its remarkably preserved wooden hull is displayed with the reverence of a dinosaur skeleton at a natural-history museum. I was also fascinated by the room that went into great detail about the seasonal activities of major tribes, such as the Caddo, Comanche, Apache, and Tonkawa. Some of the Spanish highlights included a 250-year-old mission gate and a beautiful sculpture of St. Francis of Assisi, both found in the San Antonio area and carefully restored. In addition to this permanent collection, we visited two temporary exhibits, including the last stop for the traveling, immersive “WWI America.” The other, “Texas From Above,” on the top floor, showcases the aerial images of the 3,822 miles of Texas borders, taken over six days by photographer (and humorist!) Jay B. Sauceda, in a project commissioned by this magazine. The exhibit ends June 16.
—Kathy Blackwell, executive editor
Megan Thee Stallion’s Dizzying Lyrical Prowess on “Sex Talk”
Since her beginnings as a viral rapping sensation in 2017, Houston hip-hop powerhouse Megan Thee Stallion has stood out with her dizzying flow and impeccable confidence. She’s added another hit to her list with “Sex Talk” (March 21), a snappy hotline rap that paints her deepest fantasies. Megan’s bars are supported by only a clear-cut trap beat and reverberating bass, which she rides with ease, spitting rhymes that showcase her sexual prowess and autonomy. Most of the song’s brash lyrics discuss two people in the act, but Megan’s wordplay sets her apart from the jumbled “onomatopoeias” that she taunts popular mumble rappers for overusing. (In four lines, she manages to connect both Reese’s candy and the Powerpuff Girls with sex.) Staging the song as a one-sided, steamy phone call, this rising princess of rap gives the receiver little time to recover from her lyrical jabs. Those on the receiving end can only sit in stunned silence once the single ends, itching to see what Megan will bring in her upcoming album.
—Tiana Woodard, intern
Note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Missy Elliott’s name.