Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)
BY Jedd Beaudoin - 30 Jun 2020
A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.
Alpha Cat (Elizabeth McCullough) releases Live at Vox Pop, Brooklyn, NY - July 21, 2005, on the 3rd of July as a $2 download with all proceeds being split between Bring Change to Mind, and the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation. Both of these charities focus on ending discrimination towards those seeking help with mental health issues.
McCullough presents the release in honor of her therapist of a decade, Robin Goldberg, who died shortly after her retirement in 2018. When McCullough learned of Goldberg's passing earlier this year, she decided to offer the Vox Pop set to fans. The set represents her return to live performance after the death of her father. The tumult and catharsis of the set can be heard on the recording (done on MiniDisc). She quickly finds her footing in the set, and demonstrates the full power of her compositions as well as her knack for writing moving material that is emotionally illuminating and vulnerable.
THE STATIC DIVE
Alpha Cat is the professional name of singer/songwriter Elizabeth McCullough. The artist actually holds a number of other creative titles as well.They include; photographer, composer, singer, multi-instrumentalist and performer. In August of 2019, Alpha Cat released her new album, “Thatched Roof Glass House.” The album is her first in over a decade. Despite the singer’s long respite from the biz, the record has garnered quite a bit of attention. College Radio has adopted the album. It has made it onto the Top 30 on The North American College & Community Radio Chart.
“Mockingbird” is the second single from “Thatched Roof Glass House.” McCullough’s band on the record features some music industry heavy-hitters. They include the recording skills of Fred Smith (Blondie and the band Television), guitarist Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams, John Mayer), Reggie McBride (Elton John) and Chris Butler (The Waitresses) on bass, Jason Harrison Smith (Albert Lee, Kelly Sweet, Ian Andersen), co-producer Jon Mattox and mastered by post-production legend Brett (Cosmo) Thorngren.
The track opens up with some really beautiful guitar. The clean Telecaster picking and bends remain a focal point throughout. It gives the song just a touch of Nashville. However, the rhythm section brings the tune firmly into Adult Alternative territory. All of this is in support of Elizabeth’s smooth and soothing lead vocal. She delivers stream of consciousness lyrics like a reassuring friend. A series of single-line bits of wisdom piece together advice and observations on the value, and risk, of being true to oneself. The Mockingbird sees “be yourself” and “be loved” as opposing concepts. The unspoken message is, don’t fall into that trap.
Alpha Cat’s new music aims for loving-yourself melodrama with each passing second shaped by circumstances of time and introspection. Amid the layered arrangements and slick songwriting she explores electric guitar sounds and more ambitious production techniques, to positive results. The second single off her current album Thatched Roof Glass House, “Mockingbird” allows the singer to offer a self-contained mix of alternative/folk rock that’s far more evocative than the few words she sings.
The song’s real triumph is in its lush melodies, strands that wind and splay like a carpet of vines. Everything sounds tighter, clearer, and at times brighter. But it’s also the lyrics which show Alpha Cat’s affinity for allowing the space between thoughts to germinate, until a molehill-sized musing becomes an impenetrable, towering glacier. She finds herself reflecting on mistakes and forgiving herself on her shortcomings and embarks on a journey towards self-discovery and self-love.
On the way, she surprises herself with things she never realized before. She gives herself a break from time to time, learning to trust herself and her own instincts. Through her song, Alpha Cat makes you feel that you are absolutely the most important person in your entire universe. You might just be another person when it comes to the grand scheme of things, but when it comes to your understanding of reality, you are the only thing that matters.
“Mockingbird” begins innocently enough with heavily reverbed vocals and larger-than-life guitar lines that provide enough flourishes to drown out any attempt at restraint. Then a buzz of drums take on an almost self-consciously gritty streak, making for a colorful display of the singer’s profoundly delicate production. The song itself was recorded with the help of Fred Smith (Blondie and the band Television), guitarist Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams, John Mayer), Reggie McBride (Elton John) and Chris Butler (The Waitresses) on bass, Jason Harrison Smith (Albert Lee, Kelly Sweet, Ian Andersen), co-producer Jon Mattox and mastered by post-production legend Brett (Cosmo) Thorngren.
All of these inputs make for a comfortable fit. It’s a welcome jolt of calm energy, evidence that Alpha Cat need not sacrifice authenticity for enthusiasm with “Mockingbird.” It being her first release in more than a decade, the song elicits an almost mystic appeal. Some of us confuse self-love with endless positivity and endless optimism, but “Mocingbird” is all about allowing yourself to be honest with who you are. And it’s hard not to dream up lofty, folkloric imagery to accompany Alpha Cat’s gentle voice and be captivated by it.
New Album: Thatched Roof Glass House by Alpha Cat
"(Elizabeth McCullough of Alpha Cat has produced) the stunning Thatched Roof Glass House, with musical co-conspirators Fred Smith from Television as co-producer (on Black Hole), guitarist Doug Pettibone from the Lucinda Williams and John Mayer orbit, Reggie McBride (Elton John) on bass and Jason Harrison Smith on drums, who has laid down the rhythmic foundation for such musical luminaries as Albert Lee, Kelly Sweet and Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson.
The musical results speak for themselves. The NYC punk-pop aesthetic shines through with attention and detail.
The music is both poppy and underground performance art at the same time. It is also done with the confidence and shine of a woman who has lived life and faced hard times emotionally and physically.
Young girls in the same musical fields usually have to manufacture such emotional musical content. Alpha Cat just opens her mouth and it pours (out) with an authority 23-year olds do not have the life experience to muster.."
Kay Kinta, BuzzFeed