Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Michael Shuman and Josh Homme don't seem to have much at all in common when considering their writing mechanics and sonic choices - at least when we separate them. Shuman is one of the newer additions to the on-again-off-again band Queens of the Stone Age that Homme started before tiring of it some and moving on to form Eagles of Death Metal and Those Crooked Vultures. A bass player for QOTSA, Shuman is the front man, guitarist, and drummer for this Los Angeles-based project called Mini Mansions and there's far less hazy, curled lip stomp, fewer to no rattling rattlesnakes and a noticeably curtailed peyote indulgence. One might even be able to convince oneself that there is absolutely no recreational hard drug usage happening amongst the members of Mini Mansions. For sure, they're not straying from their baggies of pot for long, but the songs on the band's new album are demonstrative of a yellow submarine and a magical mystery tour, not a lost weekend with Harry Nilsson or a toothless, homeless and blind shaman who bases every decision he makes on the creases on his hands and the whispers of the desert dogs. Shuman, who fills out the rest of his group with bassist Zach Dawes and keyboardist/guitarist Tyler Parkford and is releasing his debut album on Homme's own imprint, approaches his songwriting with an ear for the melodies in every inch of the spaces that he makes. His is a pop ear and he approaches the writing with a penchant for big ass hooks that swing on the chandeliers that he hangs. Some of the crystals crack off and rain down on the swinging and swiveling people below, unable to help themselves from the movement spawning. "Seven Sons" unspools like a mischievous tale of a woman hellbent on causing trouble and bedding any of the men that she wants regardless (or in spite of) who they might currently be with. Shuman sings, "She knows everybody's girl," and it's as if we can see the minx grinding her teeth and pushing out her bust as the man goes by. There must be an epidemic there in Hollywood land, of women just like this one, as later in the song "Dirty T.K.O." Shuman's again pointing out the "gold diggers" and the "homewreckers." It just so happens that Daryl Hall and John Oates' "Rich Girl" grew up and into a collective vision of all the women that Shuman finds himself wanting to write about and he gives them their moony eyes and splendid grooves.