Close Encounters of the Worst Kind
If That's Opportunity, Don't Answer
Trenton, New Jersey
Punk-rock’s real power doesn’t come from energy or aggression, contrary to what many might assume. Instead, its power comes from vulnerability—to admit what’s breaking or broken, to examine it honestly and confront it as necessary. Perhaps its noisy demeanor is a facade, or perhaps it’s an expression of that vulnerability.
Bands like Trenton, NJ’s Coach’s Son understand this and their debut EP I Don’t Know Much About Art, But I Know What Makes Me Mad expresses this duality. On the surface, songs like “Be Still, Cody” are controlled and chaotic, due in no small part to guitarist and singer Sean Bystrzycki’s distinctive growl; here, Matt Bernard’s bass smolders as it rolls behind the song, kicked around by Dakota Bethke’s battering drums. But Bystrzycki’s lyrics paint an obscure and poetic portrait of a flawed character: “You keep your records as told,” he sings, “Scribbles bound in leather / With clasps that bind and twine for brace / You thought you should keep it / Trash the histories, balanced soul.”
Coach’s Son is comprised of friends who stretch as far back as middle school, which may be why they balance each other musically. On opener “Parenthetical,” Bystrzycki’s throaty roar is matched against guitarist and singer Matt Vaneekhoven’s keen whine; where Bystrzycki’s lines are terse and tense, Vaneekhoven’s provide the more melodic, lyrical compliment. “Distraction weighing on my mind, keeps me from home,” he sings, “Distance is the part of this that hurts the most / Tretching through the mud and moss to find a way / Waiting for an open door to stumble through.” Such dualities exists throughout I Don’t Know Much About Art—the rough and the smooth, the spare and the complex, the aggressive and the introspective. They are there on “Stressed Investor,” whose kicky verse crumbles into a tumultuous chorus, and on the knotty “Fox Thoughts.”
Some would say the most impactful punk-rock is more emotional or intellectual—less about the energy or aggression and more about what inspires it. Perhaps it’s stated in the EP’s title: though the band may not know much about art, by expressing their frustration and fury—their vulnerabilities—they’ve created something powerful, meaningful, and memorable.
Sean Bystrzycki - Vocals and Guitar
Matt Vaneekhoven - Vocals and Guitar
Matt Bernard - Bass
Dakota Bethke - Drums