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Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz - Sirens Go By (Baggage Room Records)

20 March 2021

It is common knowledge that great moments in history are often responsible for an explosion of new artistic works reacting to such epochs. The COVID pandemic is no exception, and we are only just beginning to see how it has inspired artists, but the Californian duo of Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz have been working to record a large series of four releases all created while under lockdown. The latest Sirens Go By is partly a concept album about New York City during the worst of the pandemic, and consequently this makes it one of the more obviously emotionally heavy entries in the series.

Anders’ vocals are highly reminiscent of Neil Young with some breathiness courtesy of Nick Drake, and the songs are in a rootsy folk style that is both laid back and hard hitting. Consequently, many of the tracks call to mind Young’s classic Harvest era, and the subject matter is as pensively melancholic from themes such as a failing relationship on “A Love So So” to a reflection on the false myth of America with “Twilight’s Last Gleaming.” Although their next release promises to have more of a rock edge, the mood of Sirens Go By, especially the title track, perfectly suits the uncertain and contemplative time we are in.