By Aarin Wright
Quarantine fever dreams are like none other. Colorful memories of happier days spent outdoors mutate to rigid balls of panic within the course of a 30 minute, or three hour, midday nap. On his newest EP, APOCALYPSE, out today on Fluff & Gravy Records, Seattle indie-folk artist Jason McCue orchestrates the waking nightmare.
“Trying to think rationally during a pandemic…” he begins, before proposing words for the arduous task. Five tracks follow that, even if born from irrationality, illustrate both McCue’s, and countless others’, mental health at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak.
While March 2020 is now an emotional eon away, it was then that McCue found himself in a Starbucks parking lot in Denver, cancelling his ongoing U.S. tour. The foreboding promise of lockdown forced him on a 48-hour race back to Seattle, through altitude sickness and unexpected blizzards.
The sharp and sudden folk-punk of “PANIC! (The Store’s out of Sanitizer)” place the listener on that slick mountain road, speeding away from their previous livelihood to the uncertainty and terror of what awaits back home.
The bulk of APOCALYPSE views the current global crisis through a lens of skeptical optimism. McCue’s signature finger-picked guitar intricacies and gentle whisper-sung vocals put aside his personal anxieties to reflect on the world and others.
Although written and recorded before the murder of George Floyd and the current movement for Black lives, APOCALYPSE relishes in the free time awarded to some in quarantine, which must now be used to pause and think critically. This is a time to be utilized by White listeners, musicians (and writers such as myself) to learn, practice and take action on anti-racist work.
At the end of the track “Staying Inside,” McCue sings, “No, I don’t think that things will be the same,” from a place of hesitation. However, upon release the line should be interpreted more as a promise – to emerge in a COVID-free future as better human beings.
Listen to Jason McCue’s new EP, APOCALYPSE, out today. All proceeds from Bandcamp sales will be donated to The Plate Fund, supporting restaurant and bar workers in King County, Washington. Today, Friday, July 3, Jason McCue will match the money made in EP sales with a donation to Northwest Community Bail Fund.
Below is a (unfinished) list of Seattle-based Black organizations, activists, writers and journalists to follow and support
- Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County
- Creative Justice
- LANGSTON Seattle
- WA BLOC
- Black Dot
- Community Passageways
- Rainier Beach Action Coalition
- Wa Na Wa Ri
- Nurturing Roots
- Byrd Barr
- Village of Hope
- Nikkita Oliver
- Omari Salisbury
- Ijeoma Oluo