Day 112 – #310. Showbread – No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical

Showbread - No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical Album Review

I don’t like using the term “obsession” when talking about someone’s appreciation for a band or album. How could you fault a person who goes out of their way for a particular hobby? Everyone’s got their thing.

That said, I’ve seen Showbread live in excess of 30 times, all across the country (but mostly here in Florida).

I wouldn’t begin to call it an obsession because I considered them to be friends of mine. For a band that lives on the road the majority of year but still finds themselves unable to break into a mainstream audience, reality is sometimes securing lodging from the stage. This may go something to the effect of asking an audience of less than 100 people, “Would anyone be so willing as to let (7-10) nice boys/people sleep on their floor?”

When in 2006, the band asked from stage during a performance if anyone could acquire a Nintendo Wii console for them, I jumped at the chance. I was working at a GameStop at the time, and had the means to secure one for them. When I lived in Brooksville, I also offered a floor for their members as well as those of The Ember Days. The ensuing result looked like a cult suicide: 16+ people in sleeping bags on the floor of my mom’s house.

And though my religious affiliation and beliefs have been… shall we say, tweaked? the last few years, I still firmly believe that the Showbread dudes are the most genuine, Jesus-loving people I’ve ever met – no matter their revolving door of members (which numbered as many as 7 or as little as 3 at a time).

So no, it wasn’t an obsession, but I’m not even sure why I’m defending that. I want to say it is because, perhaps, I spend a lot of time analyzing why people like certain bands or why they follow around bands that either don’t have a big following or do but I think suck.

The dudes in Showbread never made it huge. They played a brand of “raw rock” that was in your face and wrote songs with content that often seemed to stand in stark contrast to their religious beliefs (see: “Dead by Dawn” which was written about the horror classic Evil Dead).

But isn’t being controversial a sign that, at the very least, people are listening? I guess it just seems so ridiculous to me that a band like Showbread, with some of the most well-meaning people (not just band members) that I’ve ever met, could generate a backlash so severe that Christian book stores wouldn’t carry an album with the lyrics:

Jesus my heart is all I have to give to you,
So weak and so unworthy, this simply will not do
No alabaster jar, no diamond in the rough
For your body that was broken, how can this be enough?

Just absurd to think that a band with that kind of message could be cast from the very audience they’re trying to reach. The conservative far right is baffling sometimes.

It’s implied that the entire album is a concept record placed over a phone call, beginning with “A Llama Eats a Giraffe (And Vice Versa)” and ending with “The Bell Jar” (a reference to the Sylvia Plath novel of the same name).

Within its 13 tracks, Josh Dies and company manage to craft a simple, straightforward narrative of Christ’s love atop a jarring, edgy, and at times even violent sonic arsenal. It’s a strange but memorable juxtaposition, one that listeners won’t soon forget.

Revolver Magazine even called No Sir their 2004 “screamo” album of the year, but that designation has always bugged the snot out of me. If anything, it’s an experimental hardcore record, in the vein of a band like Refused. There is screaming, there are screaming fast drums, abrasive guitars, and fuzzy, industrial keys (played live on a keytar!) – but no, the album isn’t screamo.

Make no mistake about it, though: Showbread’s No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical is most assuredly one of what I’m calling the “The Tooth & Nail 5” – the top five records ever released on the T&N/Solid State labels.

From the only album that most people remember from the band (what a shame, too – they’re missing out on an excellent catalogue), this is Showbread’s “Stabbing Art to Death” –

Standout tracks: “Welcome to Plainfield Tobe Hooper” and “The Dissonance of Discontent”
Weakest track: “Matthias Replaces Judas”

RIYL: Raw rock, punk rock, post-punk or post-hardcore. Jesuscore: Norma Jean, Underoath, etc. Tooth & Nail/Solid State.




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  7. Pingback: » Photos: Showbread – No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical 10th Anniversary Show (Portland, Oregon) alex_schelldorf

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