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The Unfazed

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Album Review

Dolorean — not to be confused with dance-pop outfit Delorean — have been gently chugging along since the early 2000s, creating their own quietly intense but unassuming niche in indie rockdom. Their third album, The Unfazed is their first not to be issued on Yep Roc, with the Portland, Oregon band opting instead for the smaller Brooklyn-based Partisan Records. Longtime fans needn't fear, though — that doesn't indicate any major change in the Dolorean approach. Things continue to focus around the songs of frontman Al James, and if anything, James' writing is more focused than ever here. James airs all manner of emotional insecurities, uncertainties, and regrets over the course of The Unfazed, but just as his trademark soft-pedaled vocal delivery never overstates the case, even his most trenchant, disconsolate lyrical observations are made with subtlety. The rest of the band accommodates this mode, lending warm, often woody tones to James' tunes, seemingly doing all they can to turn your head in the opposite direction while the songs deliver their sucker punch. From a distance, if you didn't pay particularly close attention, you might even assume that The Unfazed was simply an average, low-key album of Americana-tinged folk-rock songs that bore no particular turmoil beneath the surface. But once you pull up close enough to make the distinction, it quickly becomes apparent that James' warm, welcoming tone and the band's organic, harmony-laden CSN-meets-Wilco sound belie a world of trouble simmering just underneath that calm exterior.


Formed: 1999 in Portland, OR

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Dolorean emerged from sleepy Silverton, OR, in 1999, after guitarist/vocalist Al James invited Standard keyboard enthusiast Jay Clarke to play on a slew of his quiet, avant folk home recordings. Sudden Oak, the duo's debut EP, appeared that same year, and Dolorean began playing out. By 2001, they had resettled in Portland and were a fixture on the local literati scene, accompanying poetry readings and the like with their understated sound. By this point, drummer Ben Nugent had also joined the fold....
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The Unfazed, Dolorean
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