What to hear, read, and watch this month to achieve maximum Texas cultural literacy.
Chrome Cactus, The Young (Matador Records, August 26)
Anyone who listened to this Austin band’s 2012 album, Dub Egg, and wondered what indie standard-bearer Matador Records heard in the quartet’s not-quite-hard-rock (even a song called “Poisoned Hell” sounded thin and watery) now has an answer, thanks to thicker textures, strong melodies, and a heightened interest in tension and release that the dueling guitarists make good on.
All Rise, Jason Moran and Meshell Ndegeocello (Blue Note, September 16)
Moran, the Houston-born-and-raised jazz pianist, joins singer-bassist Ndegeocello to pay tribute to the songs of Fats Waller, starting off with a tip of the hat to H-Town’s “screwed-down” hip-hop, moving on to a slow-jam revamp of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and then shooting off in half a dozen or so other directions, some of which could electrify a modern-day dance floor.
The Congress, Directed by Ari Folman (August 29)
Thanks to her turn as the cold-blooded Claire Underwood in House of Cards, Dallas native Robin Wright is now a big enough star that she gets to play a fictionalized version of herself in this live-action and animated film that tells the science-fictional story of “Robin Wright,” an aging actress who sells the rights to her digital likeness to a virtual reality studio and lives to regret it.
Houston Texans, Season Opener (September 7)
Yes, the team is coming off a disastrous season—that fourteen-game losing streak was one for the books—but with a new coach (Bill O’Brien), a new quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick), and a new defensive end (Jadeveon Clowney, the first overall pick in this year’s NFL draft), the league’s youngest franchise seems set to win more than two games this time around. Maybe a lot more.
The Face of Texas, Michael O’Brien and Elizabeth O’Brien (UT Press, September 17)
The first edition of this book of photographs (many taken on assignment for texas monthly) came out in 2003. A little more than a decade later, a revised version features sixteen new portraits (John Graves, Richard Linklater, Joel Osteen, and Cat Osterman among them) and seven updated portraits, including cover subject Willie Nelson in all his weathered glory.
Gotham (Fox, September 22)
Austinite Ben McKenzie (The O.C., Junebug) has carved out an enviable career on TV and film without cultivating the sort of celebrity presence that might make him a bigger star. That’s one reason audiences root for him on-screen; they project his real-life earnestness onto his roles. And that’s one reason he’ll no doubt do fine as a young Jim Gordon in this buzzed-about series that reimagines the Batman legend.