Showbread is one of the most intriguing and divisive bands to ever exist in the world of Christian music. You might love them, you might think they’re weird, or you might love them and think they’re weird. Or you could just hate them – who knows? Regardless, their uniqueness is not up for debate, and it’s this uniqueness that drew me to them in the first place, when they released their 2004 Tooth & Nail debut, No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical. And for the next twelve years, they would go on to release some of my absolute favorite music – even if I didn’t know it at the time. So, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of my favorite website (😁), here are my top 25 songs from my favorite band.
(Note: nothing from their pre-Tooth & Nail discography made the list because I genuinely have a hard time listening to any of it. Also, shout-out to Anorexia, Nervosa, and Showbread Is Showdead, which all have some jams that will be honorably mentioned.)
Honorable mentions: I Am A Machine Gun, If You Like Me Check Yes If You Don’t I’ll Die, Dinosaur Bones, The Goat (Nervosa), Let There Be Raw, I Am Horrible At Processing Rejection, Why Shouldn’t We Kill Ourselves?, and My Shadow Is A Bat.
- Out of My Mind (The Fear of God)
What a great alternative rock love song. And hey, Landon wasn’t playing around on that guitar solo!
- The Great Emasculation (The Fear of God)
This one is more of a song about love than a love song. Getting past the initial butterflies-in-the-stomach phase, it digs into the difficulties of a man joining his life together with a woman. In other words, sometimes it’s freaking hard. Also, it rocks, so even if the lyrics don’t float your boat, there’s that.
- You’re Like A Taxi (Who Can Know It?)
One of Showbread’s slower songs, “You’re Like A Taxi” serves as an excellent reminder that Christians need not be afraid of death, as it’s merely a transition from this world to the next. How glorious!
- Centipede Sisters (Age of Reptiles)
This one is a favorite not because of the lyrics, but because of the music. It’s furious and fast-paced, with an infectious punk rock beat and stellar guitar solo. And with a shorter length, it’s easier to put it on repeat.
- Sing Me To Sleep (Age of Reptiles)
This is definitely the musical outlier of this album. If Showbread ever wrote a pop rock song, it’s this one. And it’s another love song, to boot. The atypical strumming (at least as far as Showbread is concerned) and the catchy synth makes this an easy song to highlight.
- So Selfish, It’s Funny (No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical)
One thing this band does well is satire. “Someday they’ll write a book about you, because you’re so selfish, it’s funny. So self-absorbed, this thunderous horde of you, you, you. I’d love you, but you love yourself, and you’d love me, but I love myself.”
That’s good stuff!
- The Fear of God (The Fear of God)
This is a hard one. Slowing the pace of the album down almost out of nowhere, the almost-closer takes us on a heart-wrenching journey through the sins of humanity. It can be difficult and uncomfortable to listen to, but it paints a very real picture of why our world desperately needs Jesus.
- Pachycephalosaurus (Age of Reptiles)
Similar to “So Selfish, It’s Funny,” this song deals with an incredibly selfish person who feeds off of a lifestyle of popularity and admiration. It’s also got some amazing bass and synth, as well as a punk rock attitude I can’t get enough of.
- Deliverance (Who Can Know It?)
Who Can Know It? was an unexpected album in a stylistic sense – it’s not often they resort to actually strumming a guitar – but lyrically, it was Showbread through-and-through. “Deliverance” sees Josh Dies begging God for deliverance from the ways of the world while seeking to make his life more Christlike.
- A Llama Eats A Giraffe (And Vice Versa) (No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical)
An incredible start to my favorite album of all time. If you’ve not yet experienced this band, this is the perfect place to start, as it contains just about everything you will come to expect from them: frenetic screaming, punk rock, wild synth, and a bridge that sounds like a completely different song.
- Myth of a Christian Nation (Who Can Know It?)
If this album made the decision to get heavy for just one song, it would’ve been this one. Their punk ethos showed up for a few minutes along with their “Kingdom over empire” ideals that really helped shape my faith.
- George Romero Will Be At Our Wedding (Age of Reptiles)
Okay, here’s the thing: I don’t like the horror and zombie genres. However, the heart of this song is what catches me. The idea that love never dies and the bond between a husband and wife; as a married man, it helps me remember that my actions can and will impact my marriage. It helps me get perspective.
- I’m Afraid That I’m Me (Cancer)
When I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Cancer, I got a special sneak-peek of this song in the Raw Rock Militia forum. It really took me by surprise with all of the different musical elements it contained (including some ska!), and I knew it was going to be something special. Plus, the biting satire is amazing:
“‘Blessed are the meek’ succumbs to ‘might makes right’
‘Turn the other cheek’ succumbs to ‘pre-emptive strike’
‘Love your enemies’ is fossilized beneath the frozen tundra
And ‘blessed are the poor in spirit’ is devoured by ‘God bless America’”
- You Will Die In A Prison (Cancer)
Have you ever felt like God might love everyone…except you? I know I have, and the start of this one is really easy to relate to. But when the song turns around, it’s a very real and Scriptural reminder that followers of Jesus are not forgotten, and that we always matter to Him.
- Mouth Like A Magazine (No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical)
The first song I ever heard by Showbread. I saw the video on TVU one night at a church coffee shop, and I knew this band was something special. It didn’t sound like anything else I had ever heard. And to this day, this song lights a fire of joy in my soul.
- Escape From Planet Cancer (Cancer)
Much of Cancer is centered around the aforementioned “Kingdom over empire” mindset. “Escape From Planet Cancer” tackles the tragedy of war and the meaninglessness of earthly power versus heavenly. I also love the transition in sound and style between the first and second half.
- Sex With Strangers (Cancer)
Yeah, it’s a metaphor, don’t worry. This one takes on the Calvinist belief in predestination, or the notion that God predetermined the eternal fate of every person at the beginning of time. It asks some great questions and is one of the best songs that Cancer has to offer.
- Oh! Emetophobia! (Age of Reptiles)
“Dance with me babaaaaay!” Simply put: this song is a ton of fun. You gotta love that keytar, the classic Showbread raw rock sound, and the bridge that calls back to Nihilism’s “If You Like Me Check Yes, If You Don’t I’ll Die.” It’s one of my favorite love songs.
- …And the Smokers and the Children Shall Be Cast Down (No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical)
An adventure of a song that foregoes the traditional verse-chorus-verse song structure. Instead, it’s a series of sections that all tie together, ranging from bizarre electronic sounds to punk to hard rock. It’s a lengthier track, but it’s worth every second.
- Age of Reptiles (Age of Reptiles)
Speaking of lengthy, this track actually contains two songs (the hidden track is unofficially called “Age of Insects”), but they work together really well and is my favorite closing track of any Showbread album. It’s an epic piece that brings the reptile analogy full-circle.
- Two-Headed Monster (Cancer)
This is classic Showbread in the sense that it’s another track that rejects the straightforward verse-chorus-verse structure, but stylistically, it’s one of the best examples of what to expect on Cancer. From the piano-based opening moments to the synth-led alternative rock, it’s near-perfection. Add the boldness of the lyrics, and you’ve got some of their best work.
- Anarchy! (Cancer)
The term “Christian anarchistic” seems like an oxymoron. But ultimately, simplified as much as I can simplify it, it’s just the belief that the politics of the Kingdom of God trump the politics of any nation at all times. The spiritual successor to “Myth of a Christian Nation,” this song’s shouts of “Anarchy! Anarchy! Anarchy!” in the chorus are less a call to chaos and completely a call to submit to the Kingship of Jesus, which is the best way to live.
- I Think I’m Going To See You (The Fear of God)
This is probably the closest Showbread ever came to having a single that was ready for rock radio. This song is nonstop energy and, hey, Landon’s back for a killer guitar solo! The Fear of God is a rock & roll album through and through and this is the pinnacle.
- Stabbing Art To Death (No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical)
As far as Showbread’s loud, heavy, and fast songs, “Stabbing Art To Death” is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. It’s punk at its finest, especially the part where they scream “Burn all flags and money, sacrifice and laugh!” Ha…awesome.
- Matthias Replaces Judas (No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical)
This is it. This is my absolute favorite Showbread song, and perhaps even my favorite song of all time. This album is a roller coaster of styles, but this one came out of nowhere, with a slower, more tender sound and reverent lyrics. Josh Dies’ verses take the listener through the depths of turning your back on God and failing Him, but then when Reese Roper comes in, the whole thing turns around. Roper sings with humility, yet acknowledges that the love of Christ is our all-sufficiency; his second verse is perfection, and when he hits those high notes at the end, I tend to break down:
“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?
By me You were abandoned, by me You were betrayed
Yet in Your arms and in Your heart forever I have stayed
Your glory illuminates my life, no darkness will descend
For You have loved me forever and Your love will never end”
There we have it! Hope you enjoyed reading through this, and I’d love to hear your thoughts!
— Scott Fryberger