Turns out that tired and trite phrase “better late than never” actually applies to some situations. Prime example: the recent release of Houses of the Homely, the first proper full-length album by Portland metal band Broken Clown, a group that broke up 14 years ago. It’s a blast from the past that no one saw coming, but old fans and new converts alike will be damn glad it finally arrived.
Drummer Shane Kinney unearthed the original master tapes early last year and got in touch with local producer Jon Wyman, who recorded those sessions at Big Sound Studios, in Westbrook, back in 2001. Singer/guitarist Mark Belanger filled in the blanks and Adam Ayan mastered the tracks at Gateway. The result sounds fuckin’ fantastic. The riffs are massive, the snarling vocals loud and clear.
Belanger and Broken Clown bassist Ed Porter went on to form the sludgy power-trio Pigboat after BC disbanded, so the frontman’s sardonic brand of stoner rock never went away, but it’s great to hear Kinney’s skills on the kit again and the double-bladed ax attacks guitarist Jarrod Tinkham brought to this material.
Belanger’s always had a singular way with lyrics. “Pornography can’t replace you in oh so many ways / Just like no gum can replace 13 years of cigarettes,” he bellows on “Smells Like Ted Condo.” (Other favorite song titles from the BC catalogue include “F.J. Gallagher Will Have His Revenge On Bangor International Airport,” “Anal Beads And Pentagrams,” and “No, I’m Laughing At Your Silly, Bedwetting, Vegetarian Children.”)
If you play this one loud enough, you can almost smell the stale cigarette smoke and feel the beer-sticky floor of the Bitter End beneath your feet once more. That Old Port club is a tap house now, and Portland doesn’t produce bands like Broken Clown, Rotors to Rust, or Ogre anymore. That makes Houses of the Homely, this artifact of a grungier era, extra precious.
— Chris Busby
Houses of the Homely can be heard and purchased at the Broken Clown Bandcamp page.