As we sat down to dream up our Texas music wish list for 2016, it seems that two of our hopes already materialized. Houston soul band the Suffers, who became the first Bayou City act in over a decade to sell out storied area venue Fitzgerald’s in 2015, will finally release a full-length album on February 12 after currying favor with Houston’s unofficial mayor, The New York Times, and David Letterman.
On Monday, another was knocked off of our list when Friday Night Lights-worthy instrumental group Explosions In The Sky returned with a new track—part of sixth studio album and 2013 follow-up, The Wilderness, which will release April 1. That’s the power of wishful thinking, y’all. But we’ve still got a few, ahem, notes on the state of Texas music that we’d like to see happen in 2016.
A New Dixie Chicks Album: With the group properly reuniting for a 2016 world tour that runs from mid-April to early September, it’s something of a surprise that the Dixie Chicks haven’t also announced a follow-up to 2006’s Taking The Long Way. Hopefully that’s just an oversight, and the tour reveals a set of new songs alongside classics.
A Music Festival For Dallas or San Antonio: Music festivals in Texas are great, but the big ones only happen in Austin and Houston. Between South by Southwest, Levitation, Free Press Summer Fest, Austin City Limits, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and Day For Night, there are a lot of events happening in those two cities that bring big-name headliners to Texas for multi-day fun. But San Antonio and Dallas are also major destinations that should be able to attract top talent, and it’d be nice to see a little more geographic diversity in how these things get spread around.
SXSW To Chill Out: Speaking of Austin festival behemoths, SXSW has kind of gotten out of control. The days of the music portion of the conference serving as a slice of authentic Austin, underdogs, and serendipitous discoveries is long gone—it’s now completely run by businesses. No, that’s not a new revelation, but the only thing more annoying than people complaining about SXSW being taken over by corporate entities and interests is the fact that, well, SXSW is being taken over by corporate entities and interests. Last year, McDonald’s hosted a showcase in which it asked bands to perform for free because of “exposure.” Maybe it’s finally reached a breaking point, and when SXSW comes in March it can take at least one little turn back to its roots.
Something New From Beyoncé: It’s hard to argue that Beyoncé isn’t overdue for a proper release. Her 2013 self-titled video album changed the game in a lot of ways (sudden release, accompanying videos, sonic innovation, and more), but now it’s 2016 and we’re still waiting. We won’t anticipate a big hype-cycle leading up to a new album—it’s more likely that whatever Beyonce has in the hopper (an album, a movie, a monthly single, a new baby) will emerge fully formed into this world like Athena.
A Janis Joplin Biopic, Finally: It’s a shame we don’t have a wide range of biopic’s about Texas musicians. Aside from the Academy Award-winning The Buddy Holly Story, there isn’t much, but a promising movie is in our future—if it weren’t busted flat in Baton Rouge (figuratively, of course). Get It While You Can, a take on the life of Janis Joplin with Amy Adams in the lead role, has been in the works for a few years and is now the subject of a lawsuit involving the production company and the screenwriter. The current option expires in March, which will be here in the blink of an eye. Hopefully, the producers and screenwriter can get their act together for 2016.
A proper Erykah Badu Album: We were all quite excited about Erykah Badu’s mixtape, But You Caint Use My Phone, a smart piece of art centering around communication and technology. We even got a collaboration with Badu and her former beau and co-parent, Andre 3000, the latter’s music is rare as of late that it needs to be cherished dearly. But You Caint Use My Phone was a good sample, but it was just that—a mixtape cobbled together in a short amount of time. What we’re gonna need from Badu in 2016 is a full length, proper album. The stranded-in-the-desert-for-a week-with-no-canteen levels of thirst are real.
Warning: The following video is NSFW.
Texas Rap To Step Out of the Shadows: The golden era of Houston rap is something that to be proud of. UGK, the Geto Boys, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, and, of course, DJ Screw are all legends—but it’s time for a new era. For too long, it seems, the Mount Rushmorian figures have been casting a shadow on a young and hungry generation of newcomers from Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. This year will hopefully be the time that names such as Kevin Abstract, Blue, the Misfit, Sauce Twinz, A.Dd+, Fat Tony, and Maxo Kream get national recognition.
A Re-Examination Of Music From The Rio Grande Valley: There are artists from all over Texas whose legends were built in hindsight: The Dicks, Big Boys, At The Drive-In, and Jandek are all acts whose statures of iconic Texas artists was based on after-the-fact assessments of their work. No Texas region’s artists deserve that kind of critical reassessment more than the Rio Grande Valley, where—as chroniclers like Charlie Vela and Fernando Flores bring attention to their work—bands like Inkbag and Charlie Daniels Death Wish should get the chance to be heard again on their own terms.
Austin Figures Out Its Priorities: Is the Red River Cultural District a vibrant, thriving, essential live music community in the heart of downtown Austin, or is it the name for a part of town that currently hosts a few clubs while waiting to be pulverized for hotels and riverside shops in a few years? Nobody can answer that question with any degree of certainty yet, and that’s a big problem we’d like to see resolved—one way or the other—in 2016.