The Saint John-based quartet Hospital Grade meticulously picked away at their sophomore album Secrets & Sawdust for the last two years, expanding on its signature blend of spastic post-punk by incorporating spacious sonic landscapes and pop sensibilities into the mix.
The result is an eleven song work of tense urgency tempered with the calm of a coiled serpent, at rest but ready to spring at the subtlest of movements. It's an addictive and discreet document, full of warnings, pounding fists, frustration, cries for help, and pointed fingers. From the winding, sinewy strains of "Walking Papers, Too" to the stark, melancholy landscape of "Soviet", Hospital Grade keeps things surprising enough to keep you guessing, all the while planting subtle hooks that infect and incubate.
Secrets & Sawdust is a chronicle of our times that breathes and pulses with warmth and life, yet is infused with the stark angles of progress and hints of the repetition and rhythms of manual labour and machinery. It's a horrific accident in the industrial workplace and the subsequent, neccesary infirmary / recovery all at once.
Finding patterns in chaos can bring some semblance of comfort. To be sure, the maps in Hospital Grade's glovebox are detailing routes that are anything but direct. But the mix tape playing on the battered stereo is full of the familiar sounds of 90's alt /post-punk, Dischord Records and britpop. The engine growls beneath, driving things forward, and a nervous foot twitches over the brake. With Secrets & Sawdust, Hospital Grade hands over a few more of their maps.
Adam Kierstead Guitar
Andrew Earle Bass
Jason Ogden Guitar, Vocals
Sean Boyer Drums
Drive Like Jehu
Gang Of Four
Hot Water Music
That thing on Sesame Street that scared you as a child