Kool Stuff Katie: ‘It’s Fine’ [Album Review]

Vortex Music Magazine

Portland’s own dynamic power punk duo release their new album at Kelly’s Olympian on April 30.

Sometimes you have to get down to basics to really explore what’s happening in your heart. Kool Stuff Katie have managed to present frustration, despair and utter heartbreak in a way that listeners can identify with, yet still walk away with smiles on their faces. That kind of impact can only come when a band is able to strip away all of the distractions and get straight to the point with lyrics and instrumentation. Shane Blem (guitar and vocals) and Saren Oliver (drums and vocals) have worked their magic over time, developing their sound into the emotional adrenaline injection that is their latest, It’s Fine.

Garage rock and power punk are two genres that can come across as sounding simplistic because of their intentionally stripped-down nature. But that intentionally simplistic sound comes with a great deal of effort and skill—it’s bare, open and raw. With that kind of vulnerability, nothing is hidden. Precision is everything. The joy of this is that an accomplished band such as Kool Stuff Katie can take us on a journey through painful experiences with a hopeful and upbeat musical message: “We get where you’re coming from—we’ve been there too!” The band's latest batch of songs are extremely catchy, danceable and dedicatable; if you’ve ever been in a relationship, “You Did it Again,” “I Miss Your Face” and “You Found a Friend” will speak to you loud and clear.

Blem and Oliver are masters of the upbeat and brief, largely in the two-piece formula. Producer Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Posies) was in full agreement with their refined direction, and it is from that perspective that the band approached writing It's Fine. Written in Portland and Hood River, and recorded with Fisk at Seattle's Soundhouse Studios and Fisk's home studio, It's Fine fits perfectly in the canon of Northwest music that shouts down frustration and depression with a 4/4 beat and an overdriven amp.

Check out the video to “It’s All Your Fault” now, and don’t miss the band’s album release show on Saturday, April 30 at Kelly's Olympian, complete with sets by Comanche Joey and Trick Sensei.

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