Extra Golden: Thank You Very Quickly

More than a charming throwback, this is a power statement made all the more remarkable when one considers the political and geographic obstacles the band continues to overcome.

Extra Golden

Thank You Very Quickly

Label: Thrill Jockey
UK Release Date: 2009-03-09
US Release Date: 2009-03-10

Ian Eagleson wasn't the first Western musician to trek to Africa, but he might be the Western musician who took his visit the most seriously. It was far from a mere jaunt aimed at adding a little extra musical flavor to his band Golden's recordings. Eagleson traveled as part of his doctoral research into the music of East Africa. In 2000, while in Kenya for that research, he began documenting the popular, guitar-heavy form of dance music known as benga. While in Africa, he was assisted by Otieno Jagwasi and Onyango Wuod Omari, members of a Kenyan band called Orchestra Extra Solar Africa.

Eagleson returned to East Africa in 2004, bringing a portable studio and bandmate Alex Minoff (more famously of Weird War) with him. The two Chicago-based garage rockers decided to record with Jagwasi and Omari. Extra Golden was born.

Jagwasi died before the result of their initial sessions – Ok-Oyot System – were released. The tragedy ensured that Eagleson, Minoff and Omari redoubled their efforts to keep the music alive. They recruited Opiyo Bilongo to help record 2007's Hera Ma Nono. Extra Golden made their first global tour last year, before working on Thank You Very Quickly, their third album.

From their history of playing tiny clubs in Washington and Chicago, Eagleson and Minoff have always held that tight quarters lead to tight grooves. And so Thank You Very Quickly was recorded in a single day. The group set up in the hallway and laundry room of Eagleson's parents' house and recorded half a dozen danceable anthems, all just over the five minutes mark, that were written in the wake of political, social and economic upheaval in Kenya. The album may have been recorded in Chicago, but Nairobi remains the band's focus. Despite their recent global tour, Kenya is clearly Extra Golden's musical and spiritual home.

"Piny Yore Yore" is inspired by the songs Kenyan children are often heard singing. The title track expresses heartfelt thanks to all the group's fans who made donations to keep Extra Golden's families safe and well amidst Kenya's post-election violence of early 2008. In the song, Eagleson explains their plight simply and succinctly, "so many people split up, driven from home, under cover of the night / no food, no money, just left all alone to choose between their life and a fight." Despite the somber lyrics that detail in two languages the tragedy of the political situation in Kenya, it's still an ass-shaking dancefloor behemoth.

"Fantasies Of The Orient" is the album's most jaunty moment, a track with a real spring in its step, where Eagleson imagines, "a life in the jungle just to see like monkeys do" and decides that you don't need to be a monkey swinging through the jungle to be happy. On "Ukimwi", Onyango Wuod Omari, usually employed solely on drums, steps out to the front for the first time and delivers a passionate plea to destroy AIDS. Even this, however, is played in a cheerful, joyous manner.

As with the previous two albums, this isn't an attempt at playing true benga music. Eagleson and Minoff's Blues Explosion affectations never stray too far from the surface, but there's a very strong African feel throughout. While the songs are about the difficulties of life, the music contains the lightness and joy that is common to so much African music. The album's length, the organic guitar tones and live-sounding drums all recall the pre-digital age. But this is more than a charming throwback. It's a power statement made all the more remarkable when one considers the political and geographic obstacles the band continues to overcome.







The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.


John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.


Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.


Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.


Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.


Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.


Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.


Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.


Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".


The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.


The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.


Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.


​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.


John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.