For nearly two decades, Justice Tripp has consistently been ahead of the curve: first with Trapped Under Ice, where he led the way for a new wave of heavy hardcore, and then as the mastermind behind Angel Du$t, where he blazed the trail for the current generation of aggressive musicians to branch out into unabashedly melodic territory. Tripp’s work is marked by an ever-evolving creativity that’s made him highly influential, but which has often put him a number of steps ahead of the very trends that he’s helped to inspire. Now Angel Du$t are back with their new album, Brand New Soul: a fearless and open-hearted tribute to all things rock, offering listeners a chance to be right there with them on the cutting edge. Tripp might forever be keeping an eye on the future, but Angel Du$t’s time is now.
“People can be afraid to grow, afraid to change,” Tripp explains. “But I want to be an artist, I want to change and I want to evolve. I love punk and hardcore, and that’s always going to have a place in my heart, but I want to challenge things.” Enter: Brand New Soul, a record that manages to bridge Angel Du$t’s past, present, and future into a 13 song, 29-minute, one-of-a-kind rock and roll joyride. Recorded by Paul Mercer, mixed by Rob Schnapf and Steve Wright, and produced by Tripp himself, Brand New Soul feels like the most potent encapsulation of Tripp’s vision to date.
The album’s opening title track lays out a collision of punk speed and R&B swagger, all careening into a quasi-breakdown that somehow combines hardcore stomp with a hip-shaking bass line that can’t be ignored. “Brand New Soul” is immediately followed by “Love Slam,” which serves as a pulse-pounding reminder that no matter what sound or style Tripp is playing, hardcore will be part of the DNA. Elsewhere tracks like the furious “Space Jam” or “Sippin Lysol” will inspire those unhinged good times at Angel Du$t shows, and it’s a testament to the success of Tripp’s try-anything approach that those songs flow seamlessly on Brand New Soul alongside songs like the lushly arranged “I’m Not Ready” or the Paul Simon-influenced “Don’t Stop.” Throughout Brand New Soul, Tripp steps out on the line lyrically as well, opening himself up more than ever and imbuing every musical left turn with real pathos.It’s this combination of heart and inventiveness that makes Brand New Soul such an endearing listen, and the record almost feels like a proof-of-concept for the daring spirit that’s led Tripp his entire life. His story is far from fully written, but ten years into Angel Du$t, it’s finally starting to seem clear that the songwriter’s many creative risks have paid off. The band’s influence is palpable, and Brand New Soul is poised with open arms to bring even more people into the unique world Tripp has created–one where stage dives and sweetness fit perfectly together, and everyone is welcome to get in on the fun. “The music bringing people together is the most important thing,” he says. “I would hope that the biggest impact we’ve had is just encouraging people to express themselves.”
On their new album, Locked In Time, Restraining Order is gazing towards the future. Originally formed in January 2017 after the band members made it their New Year's resolution to start a hardcore-punk band, things have been looking ahead for the Connecticut/Western Massachusetts six-piece ever since. After breaking out with a demo that same year, followed by a self-titled EP in 2018, Restraining Order hit their stride with 2019’s This World Is Too Much. Four years later, the band are taking the energy and style that made that debut album an instant classic and bringing in a present-day approach with Locked In Time.
From the opening notes of the record a familiar sound appears as This World Is Too Much album closer “Addicted” plays in reverse in the aptly titled “Addicted (Reprise)”, connecting the cinematic universe Restraining Order has built across both records. As Patrick Cozens shouts “They don’t know what this means, this life it chose me,” it sets the tone that this music isn’t a fad, these lyrics aren’t made up stories, these twelve songs are a documentation of the band members' daily lives.
Expanding on the albums lyrical themes, Cozens’ states:
“Going into this record I decided to take a more present-day approach. It felt like the last record let me get a lot of things off my mind. I feel the band itself has helped me move forward in life and gain confidence in who I am. A lot of the lyrics on this record revolve around what I’ve been thinking about currently in life. The feeling of moving on from the past and looking towards the future. The anxieties of day-to-day life. Realizing what I must do to make myself happy. I wanted to take on the hardships of present-day life but also celebrate it. A lot of things will bring you down in this world, but you can always create your own world and see things the way you want to see them.”
The writing and recording process for Locked In Time was expansive, beginning in fall 2019 and completed in late 2022. With drummer Will Hirst at the helm of recording and production, it allowed the band to focus on the nuances and build upon a diverse sonic palette. At the surface, Locked in Time is very much a hardcore record, but it also dabbles with garage, psychedelia and other classic rock influences.
Melody and hooks lay alongside the speed and chaos. Ambitious song structures are highlighted by seamless transitions. It’s a record meant just as much to connect with as it is for dancing in the pit, which makes sense for a band on tour nearly nonstop. The songs sway between moments of self awareness like on single “Misled” and just having a good time, as with the punchy “On The Run.” “Painted World” ends the record with the band’s longest track yet, harkening in on those more off the cusp influences and putting forth Restraining Order’s full vision.
And in reflection of those final notes, Cozens’ emphasizes:
“I know that I can see the world the way I want to see it. I can make it mine. I can control my life and where I want to be. At first this world was too much but now I’ve learned to create my own.”