Northern Californian singer-songwriter, Eric Anders, and southern Californian guitarist-composer, Mark O’Bitz, are honored that their 2020 album, American Bardo, was given honorable mention in Popmatters' The 25 Best Americana Albums of 2020--which means their album made PM's top 50. If you'd like to hear more Anders/O'Bitz Americana songs, try this "Best Americana from Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz" playlist on Spotify.
Eric and Mark released their latest single, "Careful Now My Son," in December 2020. "Careful Now My Son" is the first song of the collection Eric and Mark have named "music in the time of coronavirus." Eric decided to have three separate releases for this collection so that each release would be more consistent style-wise.
Everything done for this collection--from songwriting to recording to mastering--was done remotely during shelter in place (Eric in NorCal; Mark and Mike in SoCal). Most of the songs were inspired by the isolation, anxiety, and cultural upheaval of the pandemic year of 2020.
"Careful Now My Son" is the only song that was done in a truly Americana style, so we decided to release it as a single. We also thought that its foreboding feel and lyrics worked well to represent how we were feeling during this pandemic--so it would make a good kick-off song.
The song is about both the pandemic and the authoritarian and cultish politics of Trumpism. We were deeply afraid of both infectious diseases during 2020 and as 2021 gets going. With regard to Trumpism, "Careful Now My Son" can be understood as an Americana companion song to our song, "Wounded Son" on our 2019 album, Ghosts To Ancestors.
Mark, Mike Butler (producer), and I are busy completing the second installment of "music in the time of coronavirus," Sirens Go By, which should be out early 2021. It will be our fourth album as a duo and the songs are all in the usual singer-songwriter style of Anders/O'Bitz.
If you'd like to do a deep dive into our past singer-songwriter releases, I made a Spotify playlist of the best of Anders/O'Bitz songs, 2018-2020. You can also hear Anders/O'Bitz songs from 2003-2011 on this Spotify playlist, most of them done in this style.
The third installment of the "music in the time of coronavirus" collection will be a five-song EP, Stuck Inside (out early 2021 too). All five songs will be a bit edgier, a bit more rockin'. You can hear me (mostly soft) rockin' on this "Eric Anders (Mostly Soft) Rocks!" playlist.
We've kept busy during the pandemic. We followed up our summer 2020 release, American Bardo, with our critically-acclaimed EP, This Mortal Farce (October, 2020). You can see the sweet music video Mark made for our most-streamed song, "Comes and Goes," at this link.
As mentioned above, American Bardo was given honorable mention in Popmatters' The 25 Best Americana Albums of 2020--which means we made their top 50.
American Bardo was recorded, produced, and mixed by Mike Butler of San Diego. All the songs were written by Eric and Mark and inspired by George Saunders’ Mann-Booker-Prize-winning novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. All the songs on American Bardo are what Eric calls “readings” related to one or more of the characters in the novel.
We went into the studio with sixteen songs and expected a few to not make it through the production process. All sixteen made it through, so we divided up the songs: the twelve songs directly related to Saunders' novel went on American Bardo while the four songs with more general lyrics went on This Mortal Farce. The name "this mortal farce" is a play on what others called Dante's afterlife poems, "The Divine Comedy."
American Bardo is Eric’s eighth full-length album and the duo’s third full-length album. Eric got into writing and recording songs in the early 2000s when he met Mark at one of Mark’s shows and the two decided to collaborate on music.
At the time, Eric tried to make up for lost time by releasing three critically-acclaimed solo releases in four years: Not At One (2003), Songs for Wayward Days (2004), More Regrets (2005), and Tethered to the Ground (2006).
This kind of artistic output was extended by Eric and Mark when they started releasing music as a duo. After they release the "music in the time of coronavirus" collection, they will have released four albums in less than four years, and also two EPs and many singles.
The cover art of their first release as a duo, Of All These Things, harkens back to the cover of Not At One, Eric's debut album. Mark contributed so much to Not At One that, in hindsight, Eric wishes they had released it as a duo back then.
In 2007, the duo’s song "So Wrong" from Tethered to the Ground was used in the Michael Schroeder film, Man in the Chair, starring Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer. The song "Big World Abide" from Tethered to the Ground was used in TV shows: the Dutch soap opera Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden, and the Courtney Cox TV show, Dirt.
Eric wrote the majority of the songs on all four of these early releases with Mark. This would hold true for Eric's 2011 solo release, Remains In Me, his “best of Eric Anders” retrospective Big World Abide in 2016, and his anti-Trump album Eleven Nine in 2017.
As a duo, Eric and Mark released their debut release as a duo, Of All These Things, in 2018 and Ghosts To Ancestors in 2019. In 2020, they have released American Bardo in the summer, This Mortal Farce in the fall, and "Careful Now My Son" in the winter.
Mark and I currently have a climate change music video in the works for a climate change song we wrote with my daughter, Evy, when she was eleven. We are thrilled that we will be working with Basque artist Joseba (yo-SAY-va) Elorza (Greenday, National Geographic) on this climate change music video. The video should be completed in March or April of 2021.
Eric Anders, December 2020
From our producer, Mike Butler, San Diego:
"I got my start as an assistant engineer at the legendary Record Plant Studios where I had an opportunity to learn from some of the biggest and best names in recording. Later as an independent engineer and mixer in L.A., I was lucky enough to work with some amazing artists including Ray LaMontagne, The Pretenders, Five For Fighting, The Shins, Fanfarlo, Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, Colbie Callat, Death Cab For Cutie, Norah Jones, and many more. I also did extensive mixing work for famed Japanese producer Tetsuya Komuro that earned several number one spots in Japan. Since relocating to San Diego in 2010, I have mixed and/or engineered for hundreds of independent and national artists including tracks for Phoebe Bridgers, Jessca Hoop, Night Beds, Diet Cig, Brent Knopf (El Vy, Ramona Falls), Katrina Parker (The Voice), Radio Moscow and Active Bird Community."
Jonathan Frahm Interviews Eric Anders in For Folk's Sake 5
"Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz’s American Bardo begins with ‘Matterbloomlight (Revisited)’. Earlier this year, For Folk’s Sake premiered and praised the single for its complex, cyclical themes and the profundity of its arrangement. Now, much of the same can be said of the duo’s full album—out now, each track on the album is a “reading” to one of the characters in the Mann-Booker Prize-winning novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. An individualistic conception in and of itself, the album incorporates synthetic and organic musical elements alike to form its cerebral folk and Americana.
One half of the inimitable collaboration, Eric Anders, is the latest to take on our ‘FFS 5’ interview series. Within, Anders offers morsels on his background as a Californian artist, the academia that informs his songwriting, and what his perception of artistic success is."
Indie Music Discovery Interview with Eric Anders & Mark O’Bitz – Comes And Goes:
"In this interview spotlight, Indie Music Discovery chats with Eric Anders & Mark O’Bitz about their collaborative music project, the latest releases, challenges and more."