Review: Kool Stuff Katie Wins Hearts and Kicks Ass on ‘It’s Fine’

Portland’s very own modern grunge/power pop outfit Kool Stuff Katie, formed in 2012, has just released its second full-length album It’s Fine.  This duo, comprised of Shane Blem on guitar/vocals and Saren Oliver on drums/vocals bring to mind acts like The Carpenters. KSK have an upbeat sound that you can’t listen to without wanting to dance.

This duo is so in tune with each other that they are able to concentrate and allow their individual talents to take over. None of these songs have very difficult drum beats, though it doesn’t take away from the heart of the material.

This album is full of excitement that gets the listener pumped up, firing on all cylinders right out of the gate. The first track “It’s All Your Fault” is a magnificently fast-paced start to the LP, in which Blem and Oliver put their all into the instrumental presence, starting this album off with an enthusiasm that flows right through it.

These two harmonize outstandingly, with both voices complimenting each other all the way through. Although Shane sings lead vocals on much of the album, Saren sits in the driver’s seat for title track “It’s Fine,” which is a beautiful number; you can really hear and feel the heartbreak in her voice. The chugging “I Miss Your Face” is a rock duet with an intimate storyline highlighting their individual voices while mixing the two together nicely.

Wrapping up this album is the country-tinged freewheeling rock-fest “So Hard,” sung by Saren.  She sounds quite a bit like Crissie Hynde of The Pretenders on this particular track.

All in all, this is a great album. Both are very talented artists, composers and instrumentalists. This CD is definitely worth adding to your playlist!

(It’s Fine is available for purchase through Kool Stuff Katie’s Bandcamp page for $7. You can stream the lead single “It’s All Your Fault” below.)

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