Hi, my name is Jackie Cohen and I’ve got a new record. The title is Zagg, a nickname I picked up in high school as some dumb Kerouac-related joke (I actually remember but I don’t want to tell you), and also a word that means “a sharp change of direction.” I chose it for a number of reasons.
First and foremost: it’s gonna look tight on an embroidered hat. As the famous adage goes, “Lead with your merch!” Next: Zagg is me, my name, and this record is my first real, intentional, nearly unabashed step toward being myself confidently out in the world. Here I am! Here are my songs. Finally: making this record was truly a “life zagg” for me. I quit my marketing job. I quit my teaching job. I quit my sausage sampling at the mall job. I started taking my meds as directed. This is my SSNRI record. I’m reflecting instead of spiraling. Got my egg cracked a few times but I’m landing sunny side up. Like the Bridge of Avignon, I am partly destroyed but quickly rebuilt. I’m in cahoots with the Avengers of record-making. Still not perfect, but what’s so sexy about perfect? The intrigue’s in the pockmarks. This record is extremely fun.
Zagg is a Jonathan Rado + Matthew E. White co-production. We played X-Files on mute for the entire two weeks we spent tracking with the Spacebomb House Band. We all got the flu. Two among us came down with foot & mouth disease (won’t name names). The playing and production is bright and beautiful across the whole grab-bag of love songs, laments, self-mortifications, meditations on sunscreen, hammer-anvil jams, and kit v. kit double drum cardio smash-bros looney tunes suicide pursuits. Don’t get me started on Trey Pollard’s freak-of-nature orchestral arrangements.
Here’s my friend Eric Deines describing the record:
More than one of Jack’s many nicknames, Zagg is also a shout out to her uncanny ability to select an unanticipated word or musical flourish, her disarming poetic acumen, her ability to zoom in and out at lightning speed and spin a phrase into a mantra, or the opposite of a mantra. Each song on this record is its own unique little world, keeping a listener delightfully off-kilter throughout the entire affair. Opening track ‘FMK’ operates likes a sonic thesis statement. For a quiet moment, Jackie’s confessing her recurring mother-in-law dreams and initiating a sudden-death round of Fuck Marry Kill. Then on a dime she somersaults into rocket-pop posture, ready to cut loose and head to the movies with her best boogie-boy: ‘Let’s go to the movies and dance a little…you can share my Twizzler…Let’s go to the movies, you can dance at the movies!!!’ The charging, industrial pop of ‘Get Out’ is augmented with punching strings that are both lovely and foreboding. In the lithe, Rickie Lee Jones-nodding ‘Yesterday’s Baby,’ a giant foot-shaped cloud looms in the mouth-shaped sky and Jackie gets microscopic — ‘Why don’t you just let it burn out/Toss that glass of wine out/Stamp that Camel Light out/Shut your mouth up shut up your mouth.’ After a few more dances, deep diaphragmatic breaths, and Blood on the Tracks winking ballads, knock-out marathon track ‘Keep Runner’ gives it straight to some Wile E. Coyote tomfool who’s out getting his butt blown up again.
The energy of the record, I think, comes from finding out Patti Smith didn’t make Horses until she was 29. Extremely influential Wiki experience. Oh, and Adam Green, my all-time favorite songwriter and artist, painted me looking like a doctrinal seer peering into a cartoon mirror. If nothing else in my life pans out? Beans! Navy, pinto, and cannellini. I don’t care. Peace has found me. Here’s the record. Listen hard. Read the signs. Pack a lunch. Enjoy.