All Thatched Roof Glass House cover artwork by Sean Nixon
THESE FIRST REVIEWS LACK DATES, SO I'M PUTTING THEM FIRST - ANY MAG TITLE WITH AN UNDERLINE IS AN ACTIVE LINK...
After an extended hiatus, Alpha Cat has now returned with the album Thatched Roof Glass House.
As one of those women who grew up being a suburban Riot Grrl, I have to admit to having a certain “sister’s doing it for each other” attitude. I love being a writer slash artist and tend to enjoy when I see women doing the same thing and doing it well. Elizabeth McCullough was doing multilevel art projects that included film, photography and music since the early eighties. She comes from the same pool from the NYC art scene that spawned punk stalwarts Blondie and Television. After making a great first impression with her seminal release "Real Boy" (1999) which impacted college radio and the underground press she continued to release challenging music. The timing of her release in 2001 called "Pearl Harbor" could not have been worse. It was in those days after 9/11 and having a release that had sonic touches such as bombs and explosion just did not fit the zeitgeist at that time. It was re-released in 2002 and worked at college radio and press and ended up receiving some best of that year awards. Those unfortunate choices coupled with health issues have sidelined her Alpha Cat alter ego for some years.
She is now returned and has made the stunning "Thatched Roof Glass House" (Aquamarine Records). Teaming up with musical co-conspirators Fred Smith from Television, as co-producer and guitarist Doug Pettibone from the Lucinda Williams and John Mayer orbit. She also added into the mix Reggie McBride (Stevie Wonder, Funkadelic, Elton John) on bass and Jason Harrison Smith on drums. Jason 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 with an authority 23-year olds do not have the life experience to muster. Time for press and radio to open their eyes and ears to give it a listen! - August 7, 2019 - By Kay Kinta
Alpha Cat “Thatched Roof Glass House
"The quality is rich, the mixing and mastering are sublime. The lyrics are a mixture of astute quips and conundrums. The singing, mixing, and production offered in this album are crisp in quality, creatively inspiring, and sonically meeting industry specifications. The melodies and cadence for the duration of this project is majestic. The song writing is on a prolific level, think REM, Pink Floyd, and Bob Dylan. Songs that are cryptic with profound meaning digging beyond the surface to grasp a deeper understanding. The New York based band Alpha Cat is armed with exceptional talent to create thought provoking music, and it’s on full display on their latest album titled “Thatched Roof Glass House”.
After a long pause, Elizabeth McCullough, aka Alpha Cat, returns with her new album titled “Thatched Roof Glass House”
Elizabeth McCullough is a woman of many talents. Having started out as a professional photographer, she photographed many of the emerging bands in New York and New Jersey. That evolving music scene ended up infecting Elizabeth, who turned her visual arts into music, sounds and words.
“Thatched Roof Glass House” is the first release for Alpha Cat after a forced pause of over a decade, during which Elizabeth McCullough has faced and overcome various hardships and health problems. It was a real round-trip journey through the black hole that at one point tried to derail her life path.
Seven songs completed with the help of engineer and co-producer Jon Mattox, Fred Smith (Blondie, Television) also as co-producer, guitarist Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams, John Mayer), Reggie McBride (Stevie Wonder, Funkadelic, Elton John) on bass, and Jason Harrison Smith on drums and co-production.
An unfortunate romantic relationship, the loss of her voice, a profound emotional and psychological crisis, which was followed by years of depression, hospitalization and treatments that gave no results: this was her outward journey.
But in 2013, thanks to an experimental medical treatment which gave her some relief from her afflictions, she took back control and decided to return to music.
Released on August 21st, this album has already made its debut in the national top 30 of the NACC Charts.
“Thatched Roof Glass House” is the fruit of Elizabeth McCullough‘s determination, courage and tenacity. A dense and pervasive delivery of real life experiences, condensed into seven songs.
Loaded with passion, committed and stimulating, this is a record that, in the era of disposable music, deserves more than a hint of attention.
Thatched Roof Glass House by Alpha Cat by L. Ryder
Alpha Cat is a great name to have in these days of endless cat videos being shared across social media today. It almost guarantees hashtag views among the kitty freaks who worship at the altar of the felines. Everybody loves a good video of the cat psychosis involving vegetables and falling off furniture when sleeping.
This is a review about the Alpha Cat making music, musician and photographer Elizabeth McCullough. Immersed in the NYC art world for many years now, this is the first collection in 10 years from this once prolific artist. She reminds me of a Lower East Side Kate Bush crossed with Richard Hell almost. Gritty dreamy lyrics and music catch you off balance in this new release entitled Thatched Roof Glass House. The title itself reveals the contradictions roiling just under the surface here. My vote for the single from the album is Mona Lisa in a Comic Book. Here’s a sample of some of that song’s lyrics, “She’s the heir to the throne on a Greyhound bus, he’s the President of his own four walls. He’s a masterwork in a paperback, she’s Mona Lisa in a Comic Book”. Those lyrics speak to the deep alienation artists tend to feel about their own lives and work. Contradiction and friction are the best elements that create art. Alpha Cat has those traits in spades and it gets reflected through all the tracks on this record.
The music bed for these missives is made by producer/engineer Jon Mattox, guitarist Doug Pettibone from Lucinda Williams and John Mayer’s backup work. Now add in bassist Reggie McBride and drummer/co-producer Jason Smith. Thatched Roof Glass House was made and then shelved due to a multi-year battle with depression and mental struggles. Thatched Roof Glass House is a seriously artistic project that is finally seeing the light of day. I sincerely hope this restores the artist's sense of balance and shows her the light that Hank Williams sang so beautifully about. These are some great tunes done really well, and they look good out in the light of day.
Music Review: Alpha Cat – Mockingbird
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’s 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 (Stevie Wonder, Funkadelic, Elton John) on bass, co-producers Jason Harrison Smith (Albert Lee, Kelly Sweet, Ian Andersen) and Jon Mattox on drums, and was mixed 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 “Mockingbird” 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.
Alpha Cat Is Back With “Thatched Roof Glass House”
Alpha Cat is the nom de plume of singer, songwriter, artist and photographer Elizabeth McCullough. She is a long-time participant in the NYC art-rock scene. With her music’s tentacles reaching back to the heady days of the Punk Rock explosion that includes Television and Blondie her story is an interesting one.
Beginning her career as a photographer, she was at ground zero for the pre-US punk years. She took the pictures of many of the fledgling musicians in and around Boston, Hot’lanta, New Jersey and NYC. These artists eventually became mainstream and a lot of that momentum permeated her consciousness and raised her desire to participate. Alphas Cat started writing music long before she had the courage to share it, and eventually turned to one of the great bass players and producers in the NYC punk rock scene, Fred Smith, the bass player for Blondie and then Television. Also intertwined in her story is the NJ music legends the Bongo’s. Particularly the talented guitarist, songwriter and producer, Jim Mastro. Jim is currently the de facto band leader for Ian Hunter’s Rant band and an all-around good guy.
Her first effort, 1999’s “Real Boy” was a quirky and inspired EP that caused a ruckus at the college indie rock charts and resulted in the demand for a follow-up. The full-length CD called “Pearl Harbor” had an unfortunate release date coinciding with the events of 9/11. The radio world was not ready for the release at that time. It was re-released in 2002 and garnered some good notices, but the impact was lessened. After this, she suffered some health issues and declined to produce anything until 2007.
Thankfully, feeling much better Elizabeth has returned with this vibrant and catchy collection of mood-altering tunes called “Thatched Roof Glass House” (on the Aquamarine label). The title alone relates the inner turmoil that is the emotional center of the music. Some of the standout songs are the titular track with its insistent beat and anthem-like melody and melancholy chords. Mockingbird caught my ear with its dreamy Television like guitars and phased vocals. Also, the obvious single to me is Mona Lisa in a Comic Book. The song perfectly encapsulates the juxtaposition so many artists and by extension, people feel in life. This album is going to be fully serviced to radio and press and hopefully, the public is ready and waiting because it is good!
RADIO MUSIC REVIEW
Song Review: “Mockingbird” by Alpha Cat
The artist Alpha Cat released the song “Mockingbird” in August 2019 off her album “Thatched Roof Glass House.” It serves as the second single off that album. Additional credits on the song go to Fred Smith, Doug Pettibone, Reggie McBride, Jason Harrison Smith, Jon Mattox, and Brett Thorngren.
The lyrics give the impression that “Mockingbird” is about a dilemma between being who you are and who you realize you have to be in order to feel love. In fact, the chorus is repeatedly the lyric: “Be yourself or be loved”. The narrator gives advice such as “Try not to think / Best not to feel so much” which comes in the second half of the second verse as a measure to solve the dilemma.
What instantly stands out are Alpha Cat’s smooth vocals, backed by a simple drum beat and catchy guitar chords. It is easy to find yourself paying much attention to the drums, with a beat that fits the melody well. Also, I recognized how the song was more of an observation of the narrator’s surroundings than a personal experience, with Alpha Cat not often including words such as ‘I’ or ‘me’. This song should suit the desires of anyone looking for an acoustic rock song with an observational storyline.
JULY 1, 2020
Alpha Cat – Thatched Roof Glass House (2020)
Elizabeth McCullough is the voice and music behind Alpha Cat. She has been making and releasing music since 1999 when her EP Real Boy came out. Since then, she has been through some tumbles in life where she was unable to complete her 2005 record. In 2019, she made her comeback with the LP Thatched Roof Glass House.
The title single from the LP is now out for everyone to hear. The track was written years ago, but the true meaning only hit her when she decided to release it. The song is full of introspection as it looks at how we all project our faults onto others instead of taking the time to look at ourselves.
‘Thatched Roof Glass House’ captures you with a great drum beat that drives you throughout the song. The melody is catchy and makes you move to the rhythm, whether you want to or not. It creates the ideal foundation for McCullough’s vocals.
Her vocals are fun and easy to listen to. The harmonisations on the track are subtle while pushing the lyrics through. The lyrics to this track are an interesting play of imagery. They are also very easy to get into and start to sing as you listen to the song.
Alpha Cat gets you moving to the beat of the imagery heavy ‘Thatched Roof Glass House’. The track is fun and upbeat with lyrics that make you pause and think. The song is a wonderful introduction to her new LP and her great back catalogue.
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... 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.
MARCH 30, 2020
We caught up with New York based Elizabeth McCullough aka Alpha Cat about her latest single, 'Every Day You Break My Heart'....
Tonight, I was given the opportunity to chat to an amazingly talented woman called Elizabeth McCullough, you may know her better by Alpha Cat, the name that she chose to be recognised by for her musical endeavours.
I literally stumbled across her music on a wonderful site called musosoup.com and thought I’d invite her to take part in an online interview that I set up recently to stop myself from going stir crazy since we had been advised to ‘stay the fuck at home’ by our government.
Elizabeth is a woman of many talents, her skills include professional photographer, composer, singer and performer, there are other feathers in her cap but I’ll leave you to discover these later.
I pored over Elizabeth’s ‘bio’ on her webpage and I will say that it made for a fascinating read, I can count the amount of people who befriend members of a cult New York band on one hand and even less who managed to get them onboard to help out to create a demo tape that was distributed around many US radio stations, resulting in more college radio interest than Beck or Metallica were receiving for their heavy hitting long players at the time.
Elizabeth recently released a single called ‘Every Day You Break My Heart’, a touching song that was written years before, about her mother who recently passed. She explained to me during our interview that “My mother was a complicated woman”, more is revealed in the interview below. Elizabeth is a true musical chameleon, upon listening to her album ‘Thatched Roof Glass House’, I was taken aback by the sheer power of it, pigeon as ‘Dark-Wave’, I was expecting an album drenched in melancholy but what I heard was a far more uplifting experience.
We chatted to Elizabeth from the comfort of her Hell’s Kitchen apartment in the middle of New York City where she was observing the ‘lockdown regulations’ imposed on America. I asked her how she was for time and she replied with a semi-sarcastic slant of “well, there’s not much else happening tonight” but did add that she’d be meeting up with a friend later on to walk her dog, I love that New York sass…..
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) on bass, and 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.