There’s something special about Texas.
If you haven’t spent a lot of time here, you might not realize how big the state truly is, in every sense of the word. The cities are a nice little cluster on a map, but the enormity of Texas can only really be felt in the liminal spaces between them. See how long five hours can feel sitting in (no-exaggeration) million-car traffic on the drive up I-35 to Dallas, or travel from the Valley to Houston and watch the land grow mushier and marshier across a long afternoon. The sky, somehow, seems to extend higher here than anywhere else in the country. When I first moved to Texas all I could do was stare with wonder at how far away the clouds were, how the ground shone in the midday sun, lighting up the blacktop like chrome and making me feel a million hours from the rest of the world in outer space.
My city, Austin, is known as the “live music capital of the world.” In a town teeming with talent both storied and new, it’s thrilling to know that Richard Linklater could walk up to the snack bar at your movie theater and ask for a popcorn, or you could go early to a club show and catch a local indie act that’ll be on all the Best Of The Year lists by December.
In this big-skied, faraway place, it’s exciting to count the number of legends who once lived on streets like the one you do right now. A decade ago, Kacey Musgraves lived in the neighborhood adjacent to mine. As a teen, St. Vincent went to parties on my alma mater’s campus. They tell us stories like these when they visit Texas, always saying how excited they are to come home.
If you’ve spent enough time here, it’s not surprising that some of the artists with the most Grammy nominations this year are from Texas. Kacey Musgraves and Travis Scott released two of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year — Uproxx put Astroworld at the top of our Best Of 2018 list, and Golden Hour was voted the best record of 2018 on our aggregate critic poll list.
Astroworld is up for three Grammys, including Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for the standout “Sicko Mode.” Golden Hour swept the country categories, of course, but also crossed over to compete for Album Of The Year against artists as generically diverse as Janelle Monae and Brandi Carlile.
Country fans have long known that Musgraves is something special, but her big crossover year topples the myth that country is a niche genre that only has appeal in small towns and yeehaw capitals in the south. Scott’s labyrinthian, multilayered production is far from the easy listening rap that dominates the charts, but “Sicko Mode” still cut through to become a massive radio hit. They’re also just damn good albums. Each listen uncovers a delightful new discovery. Have you ever listened to “Love Is A Wild Thing” with really good headphones? You can hear every guitar string thrum as it’s picked in the bridge, and it’s transformed into a whole new song.