Could the coronavirus quarantine be a boon for new music? Last night on his Instagram live stream, John Mayer said that he expects it to. And there are signs that it’s already starting: Phish’s Trey Anastasio has steadily been posting new songs, all recorded within the last week, that perfectly capture the fear, isolation, and uncertainty of our moment.
Anastasio started with two heartfelt acoustic tracks, “Lost in the Pack,” and “When the Words Go Away,” about trying to heal broken relationships while being shut off from the world, and feeling alone. “There’s nothing nothing to fear when there’s nobody near,” Anastasio sings on “When the Words Go Away.” “But silence can kill, and there’s lots of it here.”
Anastasio got more adventurous with “Timeless,” an electric track co-written with Tom Marshall and Scott Herman, about days and weeks all blurring together. The song uses drum machines and whistling (Anastasio posted a video of him playing it with only his black cat for an audience).
He turned up the volume for his best quarantine song yet, “I Never Needed You Like This Before,” a heavy, Black Sabbath-like rocker that would sound at home at one of Phish’s New Year’s Eve gigs at Madison Square Garden. Over an excellent riff, Anastasio sings about needing companionship during a coming storm: “I’ve never needed you like this before,” he sings, using prerecorded backup vocals and a drum machine.
“I duck taped my UE boom and my phone to the closet door for this one,” Anastasio wrote. “Desperate times!”
The flood of new music caused one commenter to ask Trey, “Can you make a whole quarantine album, please?”
“I think he is,” someone else responded.
If Anastasio is in the mood for playing heavy music, it might be because he was playing with Oysterhead (his supergroup with the Police’s Stewart Copeland and Primus’ Les Claypool) before the pandemic hit. “I forgot how heavy this band is until we started that first Colorado gig,” Anastasio told Rolling Stone. “It’s like a heavyweight dogfight. I love it.”