Los Angeles' Mini Mansions make dark psych-pop that echoes the smoldering rock and plentiful hooks of its members' other bands: Singer/multi-instrumentalist Michael Shuman plays bass for Queens of the Stone Age, bassist Zach Dawes also works with the Last Shadow Puppets, and singer/keyboardist Tyler Parkford is a touring member of Arctic Monkeys. However, Mini Mansions explore the glamorous surfaces and seedy underbelly of their hometown with a wit and irony all their own, whether giving Blondie's "Heart of Glass" a glacial makeover or balancing theatrics with soul-baring vocals on releases such as 2015's The Great Pretenders and 2019's Guy Walks Into a Bar….
Mini Mansions was built on long-running friendships: Shuman and Dawes were childhood pals, and Dawes met Parkford when they went to school in Santa Cruz, California. Dawes sent Shuman some of Parkford's songs in 2005, and when Parkford returned to Los Angeles in 2008, they planned to make music together. The trio officially became Mini Mansions in 2009 after Queens of the Stone Age finished touring in support of Era Vulgaris. Shuman and Parkford picked the best of the songs they had already written and made those into a self-released EP they issued later in 2009. Mini Mansions continued recording, with QOTSA frontman Josh Homme mixing some tracks, and they readied their self-titled debut album. The single Monk, which featured a slow-motion cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass," arrived in June 2010 on Psychedelic Judaism, and Mini Mansions was issued by Ipecac Records and Homme's Rekords Rekords imprint that November. In 2012, the band released a handful of songs that didn't make it onto the album as the Besides EP.
Mini Mansions spent two and a half years writing their second album and recorded it at L.A.'s Vox Recording Studios with special guests including the Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner and Brian Wilson (Dawes also played bass on a session for Wilson's 2015 album No Pier Pressure). T-Bone Burnett's Electro Magnetic imprint released The Great Pretenders in March 2015. Flashbacks, which collected B-sides and previously unreleased tracks from The Great Pretenders sessions, appeared as a crowd-funded release in 2016.
After spending some time working with their other bands, Dawes, Parkford, and Shuman reconvened as Mini Mansions for 2018's Works Every Time. Recorded with The Great Pretenders co-producer Cian Riordan, the EP featured some of the band's most personal songs as well as a cover of Edwyn Collins' "A Girl Like You." The EP's title track also appeared on Mini Mansions' third full-length, July 2019's Guy Walks Into a Bar…. Tracing the course of an ill-fated relationship of Shuman's, the album included cameos by the Kills' Alison Mosshart, Z. Berg (formerly of the Like) and QOTSA drummer Jon Theodore. ~ Heather Phares