the future of history by kris olsen & the banned: a review

THIS IS A GOOD RECORD. Kris Olsen is a great guitar player and songwriter out of Los Angeles by way of New York and Tallahassee and multiple other stops along the way. He’s been a true and devoted musician from the days when I knew him as a kid back on Long Island way back when. Kris, who then was a stocky, freckled Norwegian kid with a thick bush of yellow hair on his head, always knew music and was into music and was exploring music. He might have been the one who introduced me to the Rolling Stones, but I think I also heard their songs on the radio. He did however show me that Stones compilation Hot Rocks, where all of their silhouettes are superimposed over each other, and he certainly introduced me to Living Colour. He seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of bands, personnel, instruments, even composition and arrangements.

He also had a small room for jamming which consisted of his guitar, and amplifier (I think, my memory is a bit hazy here), a drum kit, and a weight training bench, with the March 1989 Playboy centerfold of Latoya Jackson taped to the ceiling (my memory is not so hazy in this regard). To be fair, I think his brother had the Latoya worshipping going on. But, more to the point, it was here, in this little basement room sometime at the eclipse of the Eighties, here, around the time that the Stones were touring Steel Wheels, here, that Kris made the now famous claim that he could play “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Then this scruffy Norwegian kid with the brilliant afro picked up his guitar and played something, but it wasn’t quite Flash and then he claimed it was Flash.

To this day, he claims he can play it, and I will not contest this claim, only that I would like to see him do it live.

In the meantime, he developed some serious chops. The guitars on this record are thick and peanut butter chunky, and the breakout riffs and solos are incisive. I am actually surprised. You’ll put on The Future of History and start doing something else and then all of a sudden you will hear some guitar breakout and think, wait, what the fuck was that? Jimmy Page’s kid brother or something? Another one of his lost sons?

All of that electricity shooting around the album cover is no joke: he can play. He’s no longer some spotty kid either, his voice has dropped a few octaves, and he’s a got a resonant Morrison-esque voice that stands on its own, far removed from the sludge of other singers like Eddie Vedder or that guy from Creed. The band itself, which consists of Damian Valentine on bass, Charles Cicirello on guitar, and Lucky Lehrer on drums, (ex-Circle Jerks and Bad Religion) proves itself capable of laying down dependable grooves that allow the guitars and Olsen’s lyrics to roll above. This record is seven tracks and was just released and is worth a listen for all fans of rock music who want to hear something new and enjoyable. I guess “Crackin’ Up” is the debut single here, but I am partial to “Craziest Dream” which chugs away on the back of a catchy riff that brings to mind the best of the classic rock canon and latter-day followers, but made all its own.

Can’t wait to see these guys live someday, especially when they slip Flash into their set, or just hear more.

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