Reggae has long been needed for its social criticism, political undertones and activist spirit; allowing fans to get lost in soft, rhythmical thrusts of happy guitars and “fuck the system” lyrics. No genre of music is more for the people, for the common working man, a sound that entices rebellion. Amongst the ridiculousness of mainstream spectacle artists and in a sea of indie music pretension, female-led, soulful reggae act, Extra Classic is nothing less than completely refreshing, both for the hardcore reggae lover and those simply looking to brush up on their skanking alone in their kitchen.


Extra Classic is made up of six California natives, mostly from San Francisco, making somewhat vintage, somewhat exciting and consistently provocative reggae sounds. Extra Classic's first full length album, Your White Like White Lightening, Your Light Like a Laser Beam -- out this September 27th on Manimal Vinyl -- feature the soft, pleasing female vocals of Adrianne A. Verhoeven and perfectly accompanied by reggae beats straight from Jamaica in the 60's. The album boasts an overall vibe that is nostalgic, ridiculously relaxing and designed to make you dance slow and sing loud.


While Extra Classic is not infused with politics, the sound makes it feel as though it is. In the track "You Can't Bring Me Down", Verhoeven sings the uplifting chorus with such soul and sincerity that no matter who the “you” in the song refers to (it could be the government or it could be your ex), the listener can easily fill in the blanks, making the "you" both significant and relatable. On first listen, Extra Classic's first single "Congo Rebel" is infectious. It is a song that seemingly gets better with each listen, exuding classic reggae elements and a sense of musical bravery on their end, unafraid to be straight up reggae and own it. It's easy to forget a genre of music, the perfection of its sound and melody, and "Congo Rebel" can remind you what's good about reggae, what's necessary about strong, catchy repetition and what's awesome about a new female voice that can go away for long, instrumental interludes and then return with subtle sweetness.


Fans of ska music and old school reggae will find themselves drawn to Extra Classic, both because it's reminiscent of these sounds and because it has a political edge without the mental strife of actual politics. And in all honesty, while there are plenty of injustices to sing about these days, it's almost too much to handle when looking mostly for escape through art and entertainment. Who needs politics when you can listen to the sort of lo-fi, mostly instrumental gem "Electric Stars" and feel somehow like you're doing your part to change the world.


Extra Classic does reggae casually, with sincerity and catchy repetition. While a track like "Give Me Your Love" slides dangerously close to an adult contemporary sound, the stand out track, "Angel Eyes" saves the down-tempo sounds of Extra Classic with Verhoeven's buttery smooth voice and pretty lyrics, instructing the listener to “count your sunny hours.” Leaving the relaxation behind and focusing on solid reggae with a danceable twist, "Metal Tiger" is entirely infectious. Thanks to Terrorbird Media and Manimal Vinyl, Epitonic is exclusively offering up a dub version of "Metal Tiger", a track that's a perfect summation of the band's sound.


Upon an initial listen, Extra Classic can sound like ska you grew out of, a more put together version of the Dance Hall Crashers. Yet after really indulging in the album, you'll find it speaks deep. It matures from the first track to the last, and it accomplishes the difficult task of making reggae new again; fun, cool, personally political and equipped with tracks for the common man, the angry rebel and the lovesick ska fan.