Cut Throat Finches Meld British Pop and American Roots on ‘Polite Conversations’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Cut Throat Finches are a young band from Ft. Worth, TX. described by one writer as sounding like Nathaniel Ratcliffe fronting the Raconteurs. Their rather unique blend of soulful vocals, western stylings and Brit-pop influence belies most of the music one would associate with Texas; it’s mostly shimmery pop. Cut Throat Finches are releasing their sophomore album, Polite Conversation on Hand Drawn Records, a new pressing plant and record company that has already received much acclaim. The album will be released in vinyl format only. The title reminds this writer of what we used to say at family gatherings during this recent election. Let’s have “Polite Conversations.” As such, it focuses on our current social and political climate, especially the divisive element.

So, we got through the first paragraph without commenting on the band name, taken from a tiny bird. Band leader Sean Russell tells this story, “When I was a kid and I broke a neighbor’s bird feeder, the lied about it to my mom even though she knew I had done it. She delivered the soul-crushing words to me that I will never forget, the classic ‘I expect more from you.’ Well, I expect more from this country, and I served in its Army…Just as my mom expected me to behave better than I had, it would be insulting to believe that our behavior as a nation should not be better, and we cannot rise to a higher standard.”

Like a soundtrack to an epic film, the album opens with “New Age,” exploring ignorance, fear, and stubbornness while jabbing at a self-absorbed society. It’s not preachy. In fact, it, like most of the material, is eminently danceable. ‘War Cry” is meant to encourage those who protest, using water metaphors to depict a world where standing up for one’s beliefs can be alienating. Blending psyche rock and Beatlesque melodies, other highlights include “Head in the Clouds” about the #metoo movement and “Trouble,’ which deals with how people wrestle with illness and losses of life on social media.

Cut Throat Finches are a quintet of well-respected musicians in the Ft. Worth area, all involved in projects of their own, respectively, Taylor Tasch (guitar), Draya Ruse (drums), Robert Paine (bass), Eric Webb (keys) and Sean Russell (vocals). Apparently, it took over a year for Russell and band to write the album which is observant in nature. It doesn’t preach, it doesn’t offer solutions, but it demands more than a few listens given its many layers, and the floating, hook-driven, often arresting music that at times overpowers the lyrics.

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