Posts Tagged ‘Jess Abbott’

Though technically the band’s third full-length, Out of the Garden is Tancred’s first truly cohesive record: a mission statement that underscores the “power” in power-pop and is punctuated by lyrics as razor-sharp as the hooks.

Written over a two-year period during a break from touring, the album’s emphasis on re-defining feminine expectations was shaped by primary songwriter Jess Abbott’s experiences living in Minneapolis and working at a liquor store in a rough part of town.

“I learned how to speak up when I needed to and how to truly be myself without reservation,” Abbott recalls. “I felt afraid walking home at night, and after a couple of months I just got sick of it and started getting into self-defense and self-empowerment as a means of coping. Finding my own strength changed everything.”

After writing and tracking every song in her apartment, Abbott (also of beloved Minneapolis trio Now, Now) enlisted Kevin Medina and Terrence Vitali to add drums and bass to her demos. The band then traveled to LA to record with OFF! bassist Steven McDonald and That Dog vocalist/guitarist Anna Waronker.

Both producers proved to be the perfect collaborators, with each elevating the final takes via their specific areas of expertise — Waronker helped Abbott achieve the raw vocal attitude exhibited on songs like the seething “Hang Me,” while McDonald orchestrated the tailor-made guitar tones and trashy drum sounds highlighted on standouts like “Joey.” 

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As a result, Out of the Garden showcases Tancred shedding its former skin in favor of a bolder and infinitely more confident sound.

Opener “Bed Case” bolts off the starting block with a guitar salvo straight from the ‘90s before “The Glow” ups the amperage with crunching riffs and pummeling distortion. Soon after, smooth as silk “Sell My Head” serves up a chorus so intrinsically catchy you’ll already be singing along the second time around.

As Abbott reveals, “I wanted these songs to sound sickly sweet, with a looming, gory shadow behind them. Sugary, but when listening closely, unsettling.”

This juxtaposition is presented flawlessly during the chorus of “Pens” when Abbott sings “I’m insanely healthy in my head / It’s crazy how stable I am” amidst a background refrain of “oohs” and “aahs.” While your head reflexively bobs along to the melody, your brain is compelled to decode the ominous double meanings embedded in her cleverly chosen adjectives.

Her fearlessness to discuss these and other personal topics is referenced in the album’s title, an allusion to exiting Eden and leaving behind all the restrictive cultural norms ingrained in the Biblical “paradise”: tradition, purity, holiness, binary gender, heterosexuality, and the idea that anything is forbidden (especially for women).

Says Abbott, “Out of the Garden represents doing what you want, what you need, without letting anything or anyone stop you — and smiling while you do it.”

released April 1st, 2016

Tancred is the pop-centered, grungy guitar project of Now, Now member Jess Abbott. It’s been Abbott’s solo outlet since 2011 and has slowly separated itself sonically from the indie rock stylings of the Minnesota trio. Abbott herself is a reserved but energetic performer; her expressive face adds distinct emotion to the confessional lyrical content. Watch the band perform a few tracks here on Audiotree Live. 

Jess Abbott formerly from Now, Now (Children) possesses one of the more haunting voices in Indie Pop.
Tancred is a perfect fit for this amazing talent.
Her Voice is a little reminiscent of Juliana Hatfield.
Audiotree gives these tracks the power that sometimes is hard to get on studio albums.

Band Members 
Jess Abbott – Vocals and Guitar
Kevin Medina – Drums
Terrence Vitali – Bass

Tancred perform on Audiotree Live, March 8th, 2016.

“I’m a loser sometimes / I will lose my mind sometimes,” Jess Abbott sings on “Clipping,” the shimmering, tambourine-inflected centerpiece of Tancred’s new album, Nightstand. After the themes of self-empowerment and self-possession Abbott explored on 2016’s Out of the Garden, these lines can at first seem like a bit of a worrisome relapse. And in a way, they do speak to an unexpected revelation Abbott experienced following her transformation into a more confident person.

“After I became comfortable in this new skin, in truly being myself, I was immediately hit with loneliness,” she reveals. “I realized that human connection is really important to me.” And so Jess Abbott began a new journey of personal exploration, one that involved connecting with other people just as much as connecting with herself. “I was reading a lot of books, learning a lot of new hobbies, meeting so many new people — just taking in as much information as possible to try and figure out what it really meant to me to be alive,” she recalls.

History is replete with such quests for the meaning of life, and with Nightstand, Abbott sought to tell her story in a way that would both connect with the past and resonate in the future. “I wanted the album to have a timeless feel to it, so you could hear my stories of love and loneliness and sense that these are themes that have existed for everyone forever,” she says.

As with her previous work, the writing process for what would become Nightstand consisted of Abbott alone in her room with just a guitar, strumming chords and singing words until gradually songs began to coalesce. As a result, when the recording process began with Lewis Pesacov (Best Coast, Generationals) at his home studio in LA, the focus was less on finishing songs and more on perfecting them. Working with Pesacov offered new approaches – and gear – previously undiscovered by Abbott, affording her avenues of exploration that dialed in the production and tone on each and every song.

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The positive effects of this nourishing environment are evident throughout Nightstand, as on propulsive first single “Reviews,” showcasing Abbott’s strong melodic sensibilities balanced with purposeful, well-placed instrumentation. Or “Queen of New York,” which captures the feelings of fleeting lust set against a metropolitan backdrop, all within an effervescent three-minute bop.

Of course, it wouldn’t truly be a Tancred album if the upbeat melodies didn’t also serve to sugarcoat Abbott’s often somber lyrics about the experience of being a woman and being queer in today’s society. But even she is quick to emphasize that there is still comfort to be found during times of isolation or alienation: “Ultimately, we are all feeling these things together, and that can be enough to feel less alone. There’s a hopefulness in the loneliness.”

Released June 1st, 2018

Jess Abbott can write a booming melody that cuts through a wash of guitars, screaming her insecurities to the beat of a chugging drum kit. As Tancred, Abbott sheds the atmospheric tendencies of her former band Now, Now for straightforward guitar rock, as evidenced on 2016’s Out of the Garden, a confident reckoning of personal identity.

For Abbott’s forthcoming album Nightstand, she takes a different approach,

This new album takes a step back from the energy of my last album to bring in a little more vulnerability. I wanted to reconnect with myself and these songs document that process. “Reviews” felt like the right first single because it holds some of that same propulsion the last album had, but also opens a secret door into a more introspective vibe present throughout Nightstand. It’s a deeply personal song for me and I’m happy I can finally share it.

“Reviews” balances an effects-laden, electric guitar that rackets around like an abused pinball in an arcade game alongside a guzzling bass line. But Abbott has also demonstrated a burgeoning knack for pop melodies, which is in full swing on this track.