They say “write what you know.” Well, for a bunch of Milwaukee musicians, what they know at the moment is isolation, uncertainty, loneliness, lost income, and fear. As a result, a few local acts have taken it upon themselves to write a song about COVID-19 and/or their experience under quarantine. Some are somber and self-reflective songs that are meant to capture an unfamiliar and significant moment in time. Some are lighthearted products that are fashioned out of boredom. Others are released in an effort to raise money for employee relief funds. No matter what specific factors brought these Milwaukee-made quarantine/COVID-19 songs into being, at least 14 of them exist right now. We’ll leave it up to you decide how you feel about them. Here they are.
5 Card Studs – “Covid One Nine”
This one is like Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” except the lyrics are about COVID-19 and there’s a guy coughing at the end.
Chris Haise Band – The Quarantine Tapes
From a press release:
While most musicians were live streaming concerts due to the COVID-19 pandemic canceling all in-person live shows, Haise took to heart the stay at home orders and wrote and recorded The Quarantine Tapes within the last few weeks. Haise explains, “I recorded all the parts as quickly, and with as few takes as possible to try to capture the urgency of the times, as well as to be true to the way they were written.”
The relaxed feel of the 8-song mix is flooded with catchy lyrics and melodies that provide a perfect chill on the couch experience for these agoraphobic times. Each song reflects on the current Coronavirus global situation and societies response to it. Haise’s staple Dylan-esque gritty vocals compliment perfectly the jazzy-pop tune, “No Guarantees”; the down tempo lyrical ballad; “Shock and Awe”, or the bluesy groove of “The Sun Exploded.”
The Quarantine Tapes can be found exclusively (for now) on Bandcamp.
Flat Teeth – “Comatose (Quarantine Demo)”
Since his band is unable to practice together for the foreseeable future, Flat Teeth singer-guitarist Nik Stoehr decided to work through his feelings during this period of quarantine and social distancing by writing and recording what he calls a “snapshot in time.” His demo, “Comatose,” is a reflection of the uncertainty and isolation that he (and so many others) are dealing with right now. The raw and emotionally exposed demo—which Stoehr says might become a full-fledged Flat Teeth song at a later time—got an equally downtrodden and dreary video pairing thanks to visuals of rain-soaked and vacant Milwaukee landscapes that were shot by artist and photographer Samer Ghani.
Guerrilla Ghost – “Keep Your Distance”
In mid-March, Guerrilla Ghost released a new COVID-19/social distancing single called “Keep Your Distance.” According to the hip-hop duo:
“Until this COVID-19 situation blows over, we’ll be offering this song FREE and our entire digital catalog for sale via Bandcamp at 35% off. Any money spent buying our music digitally will be donated to both Cactus Club and X-Ray Arcade to provide economic relief to their staff and to keep the businesses afloat.”
Meltwater Pulse – “When You’re In Quarantine”
“We’re a collective of 8+ songwriters/artists. Six of us helped create this song while trying to figure out how to remotely connect and collaborate with each other during the Coronavirus / COVID-19 shutdown of 2020.”
Quinten Farr – “Quarantined”
“For The Culture front man and keyboardist Quinten Farr offers lo-fi talkbox vibes with the mellow delivery of ‘Quarantined.’ Created amidst current events, the tune is a reprieve for him and many musicians alike who have been confined to their homes. The sultry single produced and performed solely by Farr serves as his debut solo offering, with the new ESX-1 Tubeless Talkbox as the primary feature. Simplistic in nature, the tune also leans into the musical embodiment of ‘Quarantine & Chill’ as art imitates life.”
Reins Daily – “The Game”
“How I’m feeling these days. I’m probably not alone,” says Reins Daily mastermind Sean Raasch of his new song, “The Game,” and the music video he shot to go with it. Nick Berg and Jeff Hamilton also contribute to the track (via email, of course).