Tancred is the '90s alt-rock-influenced solo project of singer/guitarist Jess Abbott, formerly of the indie rock group Now, Now. While her 2011 debut, Capes, had an emo-influenced lo-fi demeanor, she developed a more aggressive sound that embraced hooks à la the Breeders and Weezer by her third album, 2016's Out of the Garden. Abbott relocated from her home state of Maine to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2009 in hopes of playing guitar for Cacie Dalager and Bradley Hale following the release of Now, Now Every Children's 2008 debut album, Cars. They welcomed her to the lineup, and the group shortened its name to Now, Now beginning with their 2010 EP Neighbors. In the meantime, Abbott worked on her own brittle, partly acoustic, self-recorded songs. She collected them on her Tancred debut, the self-released Capes, in 2011. (It received a label release by No Sleep Records three years later.) The Now, Now LP Threads followed in 2012. Made with help only from Hale, Abbott's more energetic, electric guitar-centered follow-up Tancred arrived in 2013 on Top Shelf Records. Abbott brought in bassist Terrence Vitali and drummer Kevin Medina to play on demos for her next LP, and the pair would go on to perform on official recordings and as members of her touring band. Produced by Anna Waronker (that dog.) and Steven McDonald (Redd Kross/OFF!), the still more aggressive, part alt-rock and part power pop Out of the Garden was issued by Polyvinyl in 2016. Around that time, Abbott moved back to Maine and then parted ways with Now, Now to focus on Tancred. Recorded with Lewis Pesacov (Best Coast, Valley Queen) at his home studio in L.A., Tancred's more nuanced fourth album, Nightstand, slightly softened her sound while retaining her hooky guitar core.
© Marcy Donelson /TiVo
© Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 1, 2016 | Polyvinyl Records
Ramping up the guitar presence and the attitude, Out of the Garden is the third solo album by Now, Now guitarist Jess Abbott, aka Tancred. A nod to the Garden of Eden, the title alludes to rebelling against societal expectations, particularly those placed upon females. Produced by Anna Waronker (that dog.) and Steven McDonald (Redd Kross/OFF!), the album sees Tancred joined by bassist Terrence Vitali and drummer Kevin Medina, who have also accompanied her on tour. The ensemble's hooky, fuzzy guitar pop wears the '90s alt-rock of the Breeders and Weezer like a well-worn zipper hoodie over a solid tee of Midwestern power pop. "Joey" saunters along on a crunchy, melodic guitar riff in quasi-unison with cymbal-heavy drums as Abbott matter of factly opines about not caring that she'll never fit in with the cool kids. Its theme is representative of an album that addresses alienation and resulting independence throughout. "Pens" has a chugging, minor-key verse with a contrasting bright, harmony-rich chorus in which the singer insists that, despite the lingering verses, she's for sure mentally stable. The spare, off-kilter "Hang Me" avoids any satisfying chord resolution, instead creeping with a meandering electric guitar line as she stands up to a lover who's turned against her. An album highlight, "Sell My Head" is the driving, punk-infused jam whose hyper melody addresses a co-dependent relationship in the past tense; she's moved on. Out of the Garden is efficient in presentation, its songs wielding blunt emotion, each under four minutes in length, with the majority clocking in at less than three. It doesn't suffer fools gladly. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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