top of page
Illusion Album CoverMixtape Cover Design (1) (1).jpg

"This is a powerful album ... bold ... the sadness of what we're going through today ... set to music."

Zoe Dune

"This haunting masterpiece is a chilling exploration of the mysterious and thought-provoking, a sonic tapestry that will send shivers down your spine and leave you questioning the very nature of reality."

Javier, Vents Magazine

"The songs on Answers Belie cover a trio of topics: political, philosophical, and sentimental, and convey a sad feeling, an aura of melancholy, as if confronting an impasse, like a wall, around which you can neither advance nor retire nor sidle away....  Although suffused with a sense of gloominess, Answers Belie is ineffably beautiful ..."

Randy Radic, v13

"Answers Belie is an evergreen project, a conscious one to reflect upon at certain times in life."

Manny King John, Grungecake

"Answers Belie continues their knack for truth-seeking introspection and poignant, moving themes set amidst a folk-Americana styling....  “Force of Old” is representative of the album’s powerful sound.... The build-up here is fantastic, reminding fondly of Neil Young."

Mike Mineo, Obscure Sound

Answers Belie

Another Anders/O'Bitz/Butler Project

Released June 24, 2023

Produced and Mixed by Mike Butler
Mastered by Jamal Ruhe 
All Songs Written by Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz

Eric describes the first song on the album, Slow Movin’ Nightmare as “a dirge for American democracy.” The second song, “Force of Old,” starts out:

 

Heard about a war to come

Heard it might be unlike wars of old

Heard it won’t be civil

Heard it might be hot or cold

 

The third song is a reimagining and updating of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address: “Long Ol’ Civil War.”

But not all the songs on this album are political. Some are philosophical (the title track, “Answers Belie”) while the other three are sentimental. With the song “The Hardest Lesson,” Eric returns to what was a common theme for him when he wrote the lyrics for his first three albums: the repetition of dysfunctional relationships. Of course, this was a theme before he met and married his wife in 2005.

Eyes, A Child, Bedside” is Eric’s ode to his maternal grandfather who was a Harley-riding CHiP who developed MS and spent the eighteen years Eric knew him in a hospital bed in his grandfather's living room–because healthcare has always sucked in the U.S., even for people who devote themselves to civil service for decades.

The final song on the album, I Hope Time Will Be Kind,” is an ode to Eric’s three kids and an expression of the universal fear of growing old. It is also an expression of his fear that the world is going to get worse for his kids with climate change and the rightward drift of U.S. and world politics.

 

Obscure Sound: Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz – Answers Belie

AUGUST 9, 2023

By Mike Mineo

Their 8th full-length album, Answers Belie, is another collaborative success from [Californian] duo Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz, whose musical partnership has impressed in the past with albums like last year’s The Loss We’ve WonAnswers Belie continues their knack for truth-seeking introspection and poignant, moving themes set amidst a folk-Americana styling.

Force of Old is representative of the album’s powerful sound. Twangy guitars and understated acoustic shimmers craft a sunset-friendly Americana appeal, traversing to a lusher folk territory as the resonating vocals emerge. A subtle organ infusion helps drive into the rousing “weighed down” hook, propelled by haunting wordless backing vocals, a heavier organ wavering, and delectable guitar twangs. The build-up here is fantastic, reminding fondly of Neil Young.

 

“Too many lessons to work through,” a weary vocal presence sings on “The Hardest Lesson," another heartrending highlight. Soothing backing vocals again add a compelling melodic touch. The role of life experience is highlighted here with impactful results, specifically exploring the impact and repetition of dysfunctional relationships. The “over and over,” concluding haunts reinforce the latter component with heart-tugging qualities.

Described by Anders as “a dirge for American democracy,” the opening “A Slow Movin’ Nightmare” is more direct in its specific themes. A forlorn vocal feeling ponders on the roles of future generations, confronted with the “slow movin’ nightmare,” that appears intent on stripping democracy and safety. Hazy guitar work adds beautifully throughout.

Force of Old” and other tracks featured this month can be streamed on the updating Obscure Sound’s ‘Best of August 2023’ Spotify playlist.

Vents Magazine: Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz's new album Answers Belie

September 22, 2023

By Javier

Prepare to embark on a shadowy musical odyssey that delves into the enigmatic depths of the Folk Rock experience with Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz’s latest album, Answers BelieThis haunting masterpiece is a chilling exploration of the mysterious and thought-provoking, a sonic tapestry that will send shivers down your spine and leave you questioning the very nature of reality.

Answers Belie isn’t your typical album; it’s a musical séance that summons emotions and questions from the ether. Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz have crafted a sound that’s as eerie as it is captivating, a sonic experience that lures you into a realm where answers are elusive, and the unknown reigns supreme.

The EP opens with “A Slow Movin’ Nightmare,” a song that immediately sets the tone for the enigmatic journey ahead. The haunting melodies and ethereal vocals create an atmosphere that’s both chilling and hypnotic. It’s a track that beckons you into the depths of introspection, inviting you to explore the uncharted territories of your own mind.

The Hardest Lesson” is a haunting ballad that delves into themes of mortality and existential reflection. The melancholic acoustic guitar and Anders’ emotive vocals combine to create a sense of eerie beauty, like a melancholic elegy sung in the dead of night.

What sets Answers Belie apart is its ability to create an atmosphere of eerie beauty and melancholic reflection. Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz have crafted a sonic world where every note, every lyric, and every instrument serves a purpose in conjuring an enigmatic experience.

In a world where music often caters to the superficial and the predictable, “Answers Belie” is a welcome departure into uncharted territory. It’s a haunting exploration of the human psyche, a sonic séance that invites you to confront the mysteries of existence.

So, if you’re ready to step into the unknown, to embrace the eerie beauty of the enigmatic, then Answers Belie is your portal to a sonic journey like no other.  Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz have created an album that lingers in your mind, leaving you haunted and intrigued long after the music has faded.

v13: Eric Anders & Mark O’Bitz – Answers Belie

AUGUST 10, 2023

By Randy Radic

Produced and mixed by Mike Butler, and mastered by Jamal Ruhe, Answers Belie, the eighth long player from folk-rock duo Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz, is both lyrically provocative and musically haunting.

The songs on Answers Belie cover a trio of topics: political, philosophical, and sentimental, and convey a sad feeling, an aura of melancholy, as if confronting an impasse, like a wall, around which you can neither advance nor retire nor sidle away.

Musicians on the album comprise Eric Anders (vocals), Mark O’Bitz (acoustic and electric guitar, keys, piano), Mike Butler (bass, lap steel, mandolin, keys), Ben Moore (keys), John O’Reilly Jr. (drums), and Jenn Grinels (backing vocals).

 

Opening track “Slow Movin’ Nightmare,” as song Anders describes as “a dirge for American democracy,” travels on a mid-tempo rhythm topped by softly strumming guitars and the distant drawling wail of the lap steel. The effect is simultaneously elegiac and hymnary.

Entry points include “Force of Old,” highlighted by a drifting melody drenched in poignant harmonic layers, akin to a lamentation, as Anders’ moving vocals imbue the lyrics with palpable uneasiness. While “Long Ol’ Civil War” pulls Lincoln’s Gettysburg address into the modern world, informing his words with existential weight.

A low-slung, oozing organ decorates the title track with smoldering coloration, almost gospel-like, as Anders’ evocative voice, conjuring up suggestions of Neil Young, infuses the lyrics with tender delicacy, tumescent with inquisitive emotions.

For some reason, Eyes, A Child, Bedside invokes memories of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Southern Cross,” probably because of Anders’ deliciously grainy voice. An ode to his maternal grandfather, the song drips with an array of sentiments – love, nostalgia, and grief.

I Hope Time Will Be Kind,” the last track on the album, is a song about the universal fear of growing old. The melody feels slower than it is because of the carried-on-the-breeze motion of the piano and the gliding rhythmic flow. Anders’ voice, like a prayer of entreaty, expresses his desires for his children even as he deals with the unwavering passage of time.

Although suffused with a sense of gloominess, Answers Belie is ineffably beautiful from the perspective of composition, structure, and vocals.

Rock at Night Amsterdam

Review: Eric Anders & Mark O’Bitz’s album ‘Answers Belie'

AUGUST 14, 2023

By Ljubinko Zivkovic

[Californian] singer-songwriter/folk duo Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz are quite prolific – they have so far released eight albums as well as 4 EP’s and 5 singles and have started to build a following among the fans of the so-called ‘thinking pop’ and are now, as pop charts usually say ‘bubbling under.’ 

The really started getting noticed with their 2020 concept album, American Bardo, which was inspired by George Saunders’ Mann-Booker-Prize-winning novel, Lincoln in the Bardo

This time around, on their latest seven-song offering Answers Belie, the duo again had another literary inspiration.  Eric Anders explains:

The title track is about how the answers we’ve had to life’s big questions often disguise/reveal our deepest uncertainties and fears. In his poem, “The Second Coming,” Yeats writes “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” The “answers” that the worst hold so tight to not only belie their fear and insecurity; they are also the foundation for their passionately intense violence against those who are otherwise.

To work musically behind such lofty literary inspirations requires some serious thought and execution and the duo come shining out of such an experience again. Instead of over-complicating their music the duo go for some textured arrangements that are neither too simple nor overbearing, letting their vocals and inspired lyrics shine here. 

It is all thoughtful themes, from discussions on democracy and civil war to growing old and climate change. Anders and O’Bitz escape all the pitfalls of being too preachy, expressing their thought in a clear and understated manner, both lyrically and musically.  An intriguing album from the duo, again.

Art & Culture Maven

Folk Rock For Our Times | Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz: Answers Belie

AUGUST 18, 2023

By Anya M. Wassenberg

Folk rock is probably one of the more effective musical modes to respond to the way the world is moving these days. On Answers Belie, the latest release by Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz, the mood is darkly contemplative.  The duo take familiar elements and work them expertly and with a genuine sense of feeling that is the heart of the genre.

 

The lyrics and a sincere delivery mark “Slow Movin’ Nightmare.”  A classic folk-rock sound and rich layers of instrumentation, including a nicely restrained slide guitar and harmony vocals, adds punch to the words and their lament at the state of the world.  “Force of Old” continues along the same road:

Heard about a war to come
Heard it might be unlike wars of old
Heard it won’t be civil
Heard it might be hot or cold

Folk turns more rock in “Long Ol’ Civil War,” with a hypnotic edge that carries the message pleading for an end. It's a reimagining and updating of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.  "The Hardest Lesson" turns to personal matters lyrically, speaking of the wisdom of hindsight. 

The hardest lesson's been you, my love...

The title track features a gorgeous organ sound underneath the layers of vocals, harmony, and other instrumentation. It's a meditation on life, and its elusive meaning.  Eric Anders explains the lyrics behind the song "Answers Belie" in a media release:

The title track is about how the answers we’ve had to life’s big questions often disguise/reveal our deepest uncertainties and fears. In his poem, “The Second Coming,” Yeats writes “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” The “answers” that the worst hold so tight to not only belie their fear and insecurity; they are also the foundation for their passionately intense violence against those who are otherwise.

If a lighter musical mood is to be found on the release, it's in Eyes, A Child, Bedside, with an upbeat mandolin, but the story behind the lyrics is not so bright. According to the liner notes, it's Eric’s ode to his maternal grandfather, a Harley-riding CHiP who developed MS, and ended up spending nearly the last two decades of her life confined to bed in their living room. It's an essential critique of the state of the American medical system, which abandons even those who've paid their dues in public service.  The release ends with “I Hope Time Will Be Kind,” a ballad-esque song with a personal message of hope. It's a song Eric sings to his three children.

The Big Takeover

Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz - Answers Belie

AUGUST 21, 2023

By Cody Conard

[Californian] folk duo Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz are back with yet another album, entitled Answers Belie. Their eighth full-length together, not counting the four EPs, the group continues to mine for gold, and this time they’re augmented by a band that lends a full-bodied, warm sound to the proceedings. Once again the duo tackle a wide range of subjects from climate change to crumbling relationships, but there is a consistency throughout in the uncertainty songwriter Anders holds for the future on both large and small scales.

The album begins with a trio of political protest songs which seem connected thematically. As the three songs progress an attitude emerge that begins by bemoaning the current state of American politics on “A Slow Movin’ Nightmare” while “Force of Old” and “Long Ol’ Civil War” muse on the threat of impending war, the latter using Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as its foundation.

 

Elsewhere, however, the album shifts to the more personal, although still tackling larger issues. “Eyes, A Child, Bedside” is a tribute to Anders’ [maternal grandfather] that takes aim at the state of American healthcare, and “I Hope Time Will Be Kind” is dedicated to his three children, a beautiful song that is simultaneously concerned with the planet he is leaving to the younger generations.

For such a prolific duo, their output remains consistent and their songwriting as strong as ever. Answers Belie shows a growing maturity for the pair as well, as they do an outstanding job of the ever difficult task of capturing world issues in succinct yet profound ways.

 

Americana UK

Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz - Answers Belie

AUGUST 23, 2023

By Guy Lincoln

Prolific yet profoundly disaffected Californians deliver downbeat verdict on the world.

Answers Belie is a new record by Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz. It is fashioned and delivered with a real sense of purpose. There is a great deal of thought and intent behind it. It is certainly not put together on a whim. This is an admirable state of affairs as it is not always the case with the records that pass through the halls of AUK. Anders and O’Bitz may well be super prolific in their creation of new music (14 releases and counting since 2016, as well as solo material) but they remain serious about what they do and committed to getting their message across in the best way possible.

As a result, what we get on Answers Belie is an earnest interpretation of the ‘state of the nation’ as it appears to them. Artists representing and critiquing the world as they experience it is the bread and butter of Americana. That we seem to share a worldview with a large number of them in turn becomes fundamental to what we search for and get from their art. This record unquestionably exists to communicate Anders and O’Bitz’ worldview to their audience. Everything contained within its purview is offered up in service of this message. The lyrics, the musical accompaniment, the production, even the stuff that surrounds it like the packaging and the publicity material is corralled into line. This commitment to the (undoubtedly good) cause is admirable but is also, ultimately, the downfall of the record.

They begin with “A Slow Movin’ Nightmare," a song they call “A dirge for the passing of American democracy”. It is indeed a slow-moving dirge, intense and moody in both its musical delivery and lyrical expression. The first words we hear are “Breakdown, Has come, Too long believin’ wildly dumb… Way down, You’ll see, From these cancers we cannot be freed”. The territory we are about to enter is pretty clear and remains in place, parched and unrelenting, for the next 31 minutes. Second up is ‘Force of Old’, which further stresses the worries of Americans about their political future; “Heard about a war to come/Heard it might be unlike wars of old/Heard it won’t be civil/Heard it might be hot or cold”.

Even the songs dealing with smaller, more personal concerns reside in the darker corners of their (and our) experience with ‘The Hardest Lessons’ concerning a tendency to dwell on and in dysfunctional relationships and ‘Eyes, A Child, Bedside’ dealing with the miserable health issues faced by Anders’ Harley-riding Highway Patrolman grandad, because as he explains “healthcare sucks in the U.S”. At the approach of the last song ‘I hope Time Will be Kind’ we finally glimpse some daylight in the darkness as Anders hymns his children with remembrances of their earliest times. Not for long though, even this generous sentiment quickly dissipates as he allows his anxieties that the world is going to hell in a handcart to overtake the song and his expression of feelings for his offspring.

Answers Belie is impeccably produced and mixed by Mike Butler, who also contributes Bass, lap steel, and mandolin to O’Bitz’s guitars and keyboards and Anders’ vocals. With Ben Moore, John O’Reilly, and Jenn Grinels making up the rest of the personnel, Anders and O’Bitz’ songs are performed with an understated majesty that is entirely befitting their message. The tempos remain a notch above glacial throughout and the arrangements remain firmly (if a little too predictably) in a straight-up singer-songwriter vein. There is little to leaven the mood of resigned disaffection that has settled over proceedings early on. Neither do we get any sense of the righteous anger that must surely be part of their response to the circumstances that are observing.

All of this serves to leave us outside the music, looking in and thinking how difficult their world is, rather than empathising and sharing the experience. The record keeps us at arm’s length, which can’t be the effect they were looking to deliver with their message. Even though ‘Eyes, A Child, Bedside’ has a similar mood to the rest of the record it does hint at what could done if they would loosen up a bit and open up their world to the listener, sensing the beauty as well as the difficulty. There is just not enough of this light and shade to have us coming back for more.

 

Screen Legion

Album Review: Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz – Answers Belie

October 1, 2023

By Axel Bloom

Folk rock duo Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz have been perfecting their craft for years as a successful duo.  And, recently, they released a brand new album called Answers Belie.

Eric Anders & Mark O’Bitz Are Well Polished.  As longtime music lovers know, there’s a certain chemistry, a magic, if you will, that comes when people spend a lot of time writing music together. Whether you think of Lennon and McCartney, Hammet and Hetfield, or Staley and Cantrell, there are a handful of pairings that have churned out some iconic music across decades.

And, even though Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz may not be as well-known as some of the above, iconic examples, their chemistry as a tandem is apparent – especially on their latest release, Answers Belie.


This new album from Anders and O’Bitz opens with a brooding number, “A Slow Movin’ Nightmare" ... Building on the brooding themes of the album opener, ‘Force of Old’ picks up the torch and carries that vibe.  It has a cathartic quality ... and they capture the dark vibes of 90s Grunge.  But, they present those themes through their acoustic folk lens.  And in that regard, these two are masters of their craft.

In terms of songwriting, arrangement, and production quality, Anders and O’Bitz are at the top of their game – and it shows.

bottom of page