The Miserable Little Bastards is a side project for the band Clinkerfield. Misery Loves Company has a really intriguing concept and idea at its heart. It is a collection of Depression-era show tunes, both originals from the Depression era and songs written by the band that have been inspired by that period of music. Four years in the making, Misery Loves Company is a response to the Global Financial Crisis and general economic uncertainty that has spread throughout the world in recent years.

Opening with “Onwards & Upwards”, the mood and tone is established on Misery Loves Company quite effectively and quickly. It is one of despair at the state of the world, but ultimately hopeful that, as people, we will overcome what faces us. On a musical level, the music is quite similar to that of Clinkerfield and other current local bands such as The Ramshackle Army and Graveyard Train. Namely, folk music but tweaked and amped with a highly modern attitude and approach. The album, to its credit, is not a completely maudlin and depressing listen due to its subject matter.

The joyous and life affirming “Cest Be Naked” is a highlight of this release. The album also features a great cover version of “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”, very much a calling call from the original Depression era and the music it inspired. This album brings to light an interesting aspect of negativity in the world. Namely, that it can inspire great art. Look at the time in the early to mid 1970’s when Nixon fell from grace in the USA. In relation to cinema of the period, this inspired great films like The Conversation, The Parallex View and All The President’s Men – films that questioned the US government and their ways. Misery Loves Company is an excellent continuation of this sense of theme and questioning of the world.

Featuring banjos, mandolins, accordions and similar instruments. Misery Loves Company creates a wonderfully organic and intimate vibe on a sonic level. Coupled with the potent and timely lyrical content, this is a compelling combination. “Leave It Alone” and a stunning cover version of “Old Joe Clark” are two very strong points on a solid release.

While at times not an easy listen and definitely one that the listener has to be in the right mood and frame of mind to hear, this debut release from The Miserable Little Bastards is one of the more quality local releases for 2011.

– Neil Evans