This is probably as close to a guarantee as can be offered in the RIYL realm: If ?Nightswimming? is your favorite song on Automatic for the People, then you'll like The Monologue Bombs. And if ?Nightswimming? is your favorite R.E.M. song ever, then you'll marry The Monologue Bombs. A la East River Pipe, early Mountain Goats, and Kleenex Boy Wonder, the Monologue Bombs is really one guy, Scott Phillips, hiding behind a name that suggests a larger roster because the tag ?singer-songwriter? just doesn't serve justice.
(It's worth noting that Phillips has started performing Monologue Bombs songs with a full band featuring members of Starmount, Birds of Avalon, Static Minds, and others. No word on rather a name change to Dialogue Bombs is required for such outings.)
Like a stage actor in a one-man show, Phillips deftly changes characters as he moves from song to song and story to story. He carefully builds scenes on his subject's actions, reactions, and non-actions, showcasing an eye for the telling detail. If Stipe and company hadn't written ?The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago/ Turned around backwards so the windshield shows/ Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse,? Phillips probably would have gotten around to it soon enough.
Then again, Phillips has his own touch when it comes to ache, embodied by ?Jason's Song? and its memories of a lost love with ?candlelight dangling from her lip? and ?breath sweet with sour mix.? That versatility carries over to the backdrop as the busy Phillips, who plows the same kind of emotion-rich turf in the band Goner, moves from acoustic piano to accordion to strumming guitar to electric piano. He provides the perfect mood music for each snapshot captured on The Bombs' debut Beverages + Ghosts. One more near-guarantee: you will see yourself in one of the stories, or at least someone you know. ?Rick Cornell