Posts Tagged ‘Tancred’

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.” 


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’s ‘Something Else’, featuring Potty Mouth, is sweet, unpretentious alt-rock with a personally-oriented approach. Behind a fun, well-made music video, this group has a solid, if not kind of derivative, take on modern trends in the genre. The simple, lo-fi bedroom pop these women are going for is deeply reminiscent of Soccer Mommy. There’s a clear sense of the group as focused on social justice and female empowerment, but this is couched in a more personally-oriented, poppy lyrical sensibility that seems in debt to 2000s indie groups like Death Cab For Cutie and The Strokes. The broad, vaguely feminist aesthetic can be traced through more recent pop figures like Hayley Williams of Paramore back to Avril Lavigne and maybe even characters like Missy Elliott or Lauryn Hill. Anyways, this is a neat track from an up-and-coming band. Check out ‘Something Else’

“Something Else” is taken from Tancred’s new album, Nightstand, which came out June 1st, 2018.

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.


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.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

Jess Abbott of the guitar-band project Tancred is preparing to drop a new album Nightstand, the follow-up to her 2016 album Out of the Garden, June 1st, the Shervin Lainez-shot video to her second single from that release, “Queen of New York.”

Backed by lively guitar and drums, Abbott lovingly gushes about a one-night-stand, whom, she admits, she can’t get out of her mind. Hearing the surprisingly upbeat lyrics for the first time, I was reminded of how powerful these delicate, one-off relationships can be; maybe, a relationship doesn’t have to be so established to satisfy a mutual need, or to appreciate their presence, however temporary. Abbott gets right at the core of that when, at the end of the song, she quietly sings: “When we were here we both felt it, not alone. But I can’t feel it now.”

“The song is primarily about one night stands and the internal reflection the next day,” Abbott writes of the song via email. “But I also wanted to include the smallest impression of moments therein where you really connect with someone in an emotional way, even if you both know it’s just for the night. Shervin Lainez shot the video, he is my absolute favorite photographer and I wanted to experiment in video work with him. It’s always so effortless with him. I’m so happy with what we made.”

“Queen of New York “ is taken from Tancred’s new album, Nightstand, out June 1st, 2018.

Band Members
Jess Abbott
Kevin Medina
Terrence Vitali

Tancred, aka New England resident Jess Abbott, released their third, and finest album to date, earlier this year and will shortly be heading over to this side of the Atlantic to promote it. To whet appetites ahead of that tour check out these videoclips, Tancred have this week shared a new video to new single, Pens. The video is an homage to horror movies, featuring the seemingly omnipresent Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz; discussing the idea behind the video Jess notes, “I wanted evil to seem really seductive and just take me with it. But evil is still evil no matter how sexy it is so I still needed to die at the end.”

Putting aside the video, Pens is primarily just a rollickingly good pop song. It opens with a muted strum of electric guitar, Jess’ vocal sways into earshot as rolling toms beat a primal rhythm behind her. Like so many songwriters at the moment, Jess’ music transports the listener back to the alt-rock world of the late 1990’s, but Jess injects it with enough fresh melodic hits and lyrical ideas to lift it way above a pastiche. Jess has suggested that the album Out Of The Garden is a record about, “doing what you want, what you need, without letting anything or anyone stop you – and smiling while you do it.” Fine advice, and if everyone else sounds this good following it, then all the better.

Out Of The Garden is out now via Polyvinyl Records. Tancred tours the UK in November,