BEST SECOND RELEASE 2006 Award Winner!
Runners-Up: (Smile, It’s The End Of The World),
(Where The Past Meets Today).
As mentioned in their live show review, with the release of Showbread’s highly anticipated second album Age Of Reptiles they have taken their “Raw Rock” to a very new place. : This is the area of least change, because as expected, Josh’s great lyrics are as visual and artistic as ever. This time, though, his metaphors weave in a lot of reptilian (and occasional insect) themes. : The biggest change occurs here. On their first, (True) Screamo album, singing— although Josh can sing quite well— was really almost used for emphasis among the other types of vocal. On this new, Hard-Edged Rock album, it’s actually the other way around— mostly singing, with occasional first-album-type vocals for emphasis. Also, while Ivory still plays an obvious role, you hear much more of Josh. : While most of the songs have at least a somewhat familiar musical feel to them, the band has also expanded their range in this area as well.
And they somehow do all of this while still sounding unmistakeably Showbread.
To say this is a fairly amazing release is to state the obvious.
Age Of Reptiles begins with “Naked Lunch”. This track lyrically rebukes hypocrites by pointing out that people who condemn others’ actions should not be doing the same sort of things themselves. Musically, it’s a good rocker; vocally, it contains some familiar-feeling trade-offs between Josh and Ivory, and there’s even a well-placed background scream near the end.
“Pachycephalosaurus” lyrically rebukes self-centered people who think that the world revolves around them. Musically it’s somewhat familiar-feeling; interestingly, the keytar takes lead for much of the song, backed by rock. Ivory even does some background yelling/screaming.
“Your Owls Are Hooting” is the first of three love songs in a row. (Don’t be fooled, though— these love songs are done in Showbread style! ) This track is musically the most different from anything else they’ve done before, featuring several drummers, a dark, heavy beat, and a guitar/keytar combination that is just plain .
“Oh! Emetophobia!” follows, an exuberant, wildly catchy, and totally rockin’ track that makes you feel great each time you listen to it.
“Sing Me To Sleep” is the sweet, classic ballad of the three. It’s surprisingly beautiful, even moving at times, and still rocks. With its medium pace, great vocals, and unexpected harmonies, “Sing Me To Sleep” is definitely one of the album’s best (and most memorable) tracks, one you’ll probably find yourself humming later.
“George Romero Will Be At Our Wedding” continues Josh’s tradition of utilizing the premise of a horror movie/series to form one song on the album (like “Dead By Dawn” on their first). Because of that and Josh’s naturally-visual writing style, some of the lyrics in “George Romero…” take a little getting used to; but the band takes the end result (forgiveness, true love overcoming death, and etc.) and focuses on that. Musically this track is faster-paced, and it’s somewhat suspenseful, except in the chorus and bridge sections which have great, unique harmonies and an almost indescribable sound that works very well.
“The Jesus Lizard” (its title referring both to the actual nickname of a real reptile and also to the metaphors contained within the song) is musically familiar-yet-upgraded. There’s an excellent, powerful guitar riff near the end, too.
“Centipede Sisters” is probably the most musically familiar-feeling— it’s quite fast-paced, has a lot of vocal ’emphasis’, there are some trade-offs between Josh and Ivory, and towards the end there are several short tempo shifts during some keytar/guitar riffs.
“Dinosaur Bones” is another catchy, fairly familiar-feeling song. It’s slow-building, has a punk beat and a bouncy, rhythmic keytar line, and after a good long guitar riff and chorus near the end the music fades off to the bandmembers clapping and singing alone. This song is yet another of the album’s best.
And the final track “Age Of Reptiles”, as Josh once said in an online journal entry, lyrically ‘…congregates the theme of the album into one focused point’. It’s actually the longest track they’ve done so far, but because of its several style changes and just being so , it seems far shorter than it is. For more than half its length, the song slowly and excellently builds to a climax where we see a true and powerful return of their first-CD vocals, with equally powerful, almost theatrical music underneath. After a nice drawn-out section of this, everything suddenly stops… and, a few seconds of near silence later, fades into a subsection of the song called “Age Of Insects” for an absolutely closing few minutes. This whole track is not only hands-down the best one on this CD, it’s also Showbread’s all-time best track to date, period.
This is an album, one of the best we’ve heard, and it’s definitely worthy of Best Second Release.