parent teacher - IMPENDING DOOM
IMPENDING DOOM, DEBUT ALBUM BY NEW YORK BEDROOM INDIE ARTIST PARENT TEACHER
Release date: 24 February 2023
Available through Bandcamp, Spotify and all your favourite streaming services. Impending Doom is released digitally and on cassette tape (limited edition of 50).
Impending Doom is written and performed by Parent Teacher
Mastering by Kris Gillespie
Cover art by Bas van Genugten
Parent Teacher thanks: Joep & Bas (Wilbur & Moore Records), Kris Gillespie, Bryan B, Steve Bryant / Cru Drums, Zev Eisenberg, Andrew Strasser, Shigeo Shimizu, as well as the New York pigeon crew.
ABOUT IMPENDING DOOM
“Prepare for impending doom.” With these playful words of warning begins one of the year’s most slyly subversive indie-pop albums, Parent Teacher’s Impending Doom (released on Wilbur & Moore Records on 24 February 2023). Across fifteen tunes that span the gamut from pleasantly zapped indie-rock to folktronica and woozy lo-fi, Parent Teacher—who prefers to keep his real name private—confronts the buzzing absurdity of life in a declining empire.
The New York-born songwriter has been writing off-kilter pop songs for many years and releasing them with a variety of projects, but as Parent Teacher, he’s starting fresh, ushering listeners into his own private world. “For this project, I actually feel like I’m tapping into something that’s me,” explains the musician. “It’s much more personal—not trying to be this, trying to fit into that scene. This is actually just me.”
Born into an Orthodox Jewish/Cuban family rich with musical history, he pulled inspiration from diverse cultures: the salsa music favored by his mother, a piano teacher who passed her love of the instrument to her son; the daily prayer at his Orthodox Hebrew Temple. As a child, he was on the all-star Davening club at an Orthodox camp. But camp leaders disapproved when they found his Appetite for Destruction CD, with the Celtic cross on the cover.
“I was a horrible, mischievous camper. I wound up getting kicked out, actually,” Parent Teacher confesses. “I was kicked out of Yeshiva, out of camp, out of public school, private school—I was constantly being expelled and suspended through my youth at every school or camp I was in. I was kind of out of control.” Hence the cheeky name of this project: “I feared parent–teacher night more than any other night of the year.”
A love of music gave Parent Teacher a sense of purpose. As a teenager, he began performing at rave events. Later, he studied studio composition at SUNY Purchase College, where his professors included Philip Glass and where he felt surrounded by “so many awesome weirdos,” allowing him to finally embrace his freakishness. In his twenties, he performed in an electro project, which he describes as “like a freestyle version of Kraftwerk.”
Now he comes full circle. With the self-produced Impending Doom, which he wrote and recorded during the pandemic, working in a cozy studio space at his East Village apartment, Parent Teacher taps into the sense of rebelliousness and rage that haunted his childhood. “Just feeling like things weren't right and things weren't fair, that things were a little fucked up,” he says. “It’s more of a feeling. The goal with this project is to kind of exercise that into this music.”
Throughout Impending Doom, the songwriter satirizes the chaotic cruelty of the misinformation age with a mix of restless fury and helpless bemusement. On the deceptively tuneful “Women & Children,” which belies its grim meaning with thumping beats and feel-good handclaps, he explores how women and young people are made to bear the brunt of rising mortality rates and lower life expectancy; they’re the ones working in schools and hospitals amid COVID and the gun violence epidemic.
On first single “Everything’s Normal,” Parent Teacher sings about the daily cognitive dissonance of going about life as normal amid societal crisis: “How can we be dancing on disasters?” he croons, as disembodied backing vocals enter the mix like internal monologues. “Ex Friends” directly confronts the daily hum of bad news emanating from screens (“MSNBC, Fox, CNN Go/Do you wanna watch a pharmaceutical show?/Don’t believe it”), while the playfully paranoid “Russian Collusion II” is surely the catchiest song ever written about the seductive urge to blame any modern inconvenience on Russian interference. (The song was inspired by a vivid nightmare about Russian troops invading Brooklyn.) “Sad” hits closer to home: a bitter lament about the music industry’s callous build-em-up knock-em-down ethos, set to stuttering trip-hop beats
Parent Teacher’s music crackles with a ramshackle intimacy—acoustic guitars, buzzing synths, and honeyed vocal harmonies are the primary ingredients—and his influences are eclectic. He takes profound inspiration from the enigmatic composer/cellist Arthur Russell (“I feel like I'm trying to tap into his ghost somehow”), as well as Prefab Sprout, Elliott Smith, the shoegaze-adjacent Japanese band Supercar (“I once had a gig in Japan and got to open for the singer”), and Devo, whose morbidly funny vision of societal deterioration can be sensed all over Impending Doom.
Stylically, the record is all over the place, ping-ponging from the folk-tinged hooks of “Enemy Energy'' and “Fantasy,” which evokes the vintage folktronica of the Beta Band, to the mantra-like repetition of “Living a Lie,” which summons the brooding goofiness of Ween. What particularly distinguishes Impending Doom is the skittering drum programming, heavily inspired by drum and bass and jungle music. Parent Teacher incorporated cut-up samples of his friend, Steve Bryant a.k.a. Cru the Dynamic, performing drums, and used them as rhythmic beds for songs like “Funds Withheld” and “Living a Lie.” “Obviously, these are not drum and bass songs, but I kind of approach the rhythm from that point of view,” the musician says.
As varied as the sounds are, Impending Doom is unified by its bleak humor, lo-fi charm, and melodic popcraft. For Parent Teacher, these are more than songs. As he puts it, they are attempts to make sense of “the complete breakdown of American society, division, tribalism, information, misinformation, whatever.” For the songwriter, they’ve also been lifelines.
by Zach Schonfeld
Wilbur & Moore Records released three singles ahead of the album:
In the media
Tidings of Magpies magazine | An Interview with Parent Teacher: Infrequently Asked Questions
"Articulate, timely, and beautifully observed, the album adroitly mixes humor with despair over the “complete breakdown of American society,” and remains addictively listenable throughout."
Slim Chance is Back | Album review
"...the album offers up no less than fifteen very infectious indie pop tracks. The bouncy and often quite complex drum parts come hard and fast all the way through."