With a cult status that's grown incrementally over the past decade, Portland-based Holy Sons have all the potential to spill over into the mainstream — and not just because Fred Armisen has been giving shout-outs. Since 1992, Emil Amos has been making music under the Holy Sons moniker, producing more than 1,000 songs and releasing a dozen or so albums and compilations, all while keeping firmly under the radar — this despite playing drums in both forward-thinking experimental group Grails and revered doom duo Om. That will likely all change with the release of The Fact Facer. Over the course of 11 impeccable tracks, Amos delivers eerily infectious singer-songwriter fare on par with the intelligent and emotionally raw efforts of Nina Nastasia and Sun Kil Moon, but that's polished with studio savvy worthy of Califone or even mid-period Modest Mouse.
For a dude who writes all the music and plays almost all the instruments on the albums he makes as Holy Sons, Amos is remarkably un-self-indulgent. Sure, in the past, he's taken to incorporating genre-specific stylistic flourishes, but more often than not, everything he does serves the interest of the songs. And what songs they are. On The Fact Facer, Amos further refines his introspective songcraft, delving deeper into the existential murk evident in song titles like "Selfish Thoughts," "No Self Respect" and "Doomed Myself," not to mention the album-closing title track, itself a nod to the lo-fi four-track production of Holy Sons' early output. While everything hinges on Amos' hypnotic baritone, the songs are coloured with swirling feedback, occasional guitar solos, and just a hint of programmed beats — there's far more live drumming than on the past few albums, which adds yet another layer of brilliance to Nashville-tinged gems like "All Too Free" and "Life Could Be A Dream."
The Fact Facer is easily Amos' most focused offering yet, and a perfect entry point into a back catalogue that's sure to have listeners drinking the Kool-Aid again and again. (Thrill Jockey)