reviewed by Jake Benjamin | Monday, October 11th, 2010

A side-project for Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman, Mini Mansions’ debut self-titled album smacks of its influences — in place of a cohesive sound born of inspiration, we have pieced-together sounds, effects, and vocal stylings. A mix-and-match approach is audible; an attempt to co-opt established avenues of music expression, regurgitating well-worn aural pathways with minor inflections and changes is hard to ignore.

Certainly, this is a harsh assessment, but side projects are, in terms of the listening public’s perception, disingenuous. They feel greedy and pretentious and excessive — is one successful outlet for your music not enough? Few side projects prove as successful as the groups that brought the artist in question their initial fame. The Postal Service and Jenny Lewis’s solo-career are the first that come to mind as far as critical and commercial success is concerned. It is with luck and an excess of talent to overcome the stigma of a second group/artist that a fledgling side project becomes a bona fide success.

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Regarding Mini Mansions in this light, it is difficult to see their future as a competent and accomplished group. Their influences are too transparent — from the early Beatles vocal stylings to their half-baked attempt to fuse this with grungy, psychedelic guitars, there is simply not enough originality to sustain these guys past their famous link to popularity. In a scene that is drowning in the over saturation of the internet, there isn’t much room for second-thought derivative rock acts.

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