Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Classic Record: Justice League - Think or Sink 7inch

I know the Stuck In the Past guys do something similar; this isn't meant to be a bite of that, rather, a nod to both Record Store day and to a record I was already planning to post.

Justice League hailed from Southern California (particularly what is known as the Pomona Valley). Technically a Los Angeles (county) band, growing up they were always referenced as the first and foremost hardcore band from the Inland Empire. While PVHC might be a stretch for be associated with the Inland Empire, to be fair, members of this band would go on to be in one of the larger recognized IE bands (Chain of Strength). To truth to it all is, Pomona, Ontario, Chino, Riverside, Moreno Valley, and so on all kind of ran together as the parts that didn't quite fit LA and weren't San Diego. It's still largely this way today in the respective areas/scene.

Justice League carry the distinction of being one of the very first Straight Edge bands on the West Coast. Fast hardcore with a large nod to punk, Justice League put an emphasis on thought among the punk/hc scene and a Pro-Youth outlook both from themselves and the world around them. Think or Sink stands not so much as a genre defining record, but rather a very large marker on the path Hardcore was taking. A record that after its release; bands, labels, & fans could look at and say "Yeah, that's the look, that's the sound... that's the aesthetic." Not to sound corny, cheesy, or to imply that a singular look was what was acceptable. Rather, I look at a record like Think or Sink and it stands as a prototypical record- the cover drawing, the back live photo, the record labels, the lyric sheet folded and stuffed inside the jacket; everything about this record says 80's hardcore, southern california, and even straight edge. I get the same feeling holding RKL's "It's A Beautiful Feeling"or The Middle Class' "Out of Vogue."

Justice League would go on to record a full length with new singer Casey Jones, and eventually an EP with guitarist Ryan Hoffman handling a lot of the vocals. The band's sound progressed along the way, moving to a fuller hardcore and almost melodic punk sound; in my opinion by the end they had taken a direction similar to 7 Seconds with their "New Wind" record. Different members came and went from the band, many going on to other notable hardcore & punk bands (Chain of Strength-named for a Justice League song, No For An Answer, Eyelid, Ignite, Inside Out, & Drive Like Jehu) with the band running it's course in 1988. A discography was released a few years ago, but is currently out of print and unavailable. Perhaps it will turn up here at some point.

DOWNLOAD: Justice League - "Think or Sink"

RECORD STORE DAY IS THIS SATURDAY, APRIL 16th- go to your local shop, preferably a Mom & Pop and check out their regular stuff and the exclusives just for Record Store Day.


  1. I think STALAG 13 should be mentioned as a California Straight Edge Pioneer Band...

  2. Dope Stuff.. check out also Pillsbury HardCore also from the IE!!!

  3. Horizons, certainly Stalag 13 belong in that conversation. My understanding has always been that the first three California sXe bands were American Hardcore, Stalag 13, and Justice League. The Stalag 13 reissue on Dr. Strange is great.

    Anonymous, check out today's post, it's a comp from 1986 that includes Pillysbury Hardcore.

  4. There's actually a lot of great IE hardcore out there. I've got a good amount if you're interested about the subject of IE punk/hardcore.

  5. Adrian, Im from the IE- born and raised in Riverside. Thanks, I know theres been tons and is still quite a bit. I would love anything you'd like to contribute. Feel free to email me, Id love it.