Beyond the stillness of Lake Erie, tucked firmly in the grasp of a worldwide pandemic, the City of Good Neighbors lies quietly in quarantine. For most, this is their time to dig in, push pause, and pick up the pieces of their shattered pasts by and by. But for a few, creativity hit them like a bolt of lightning and for Mike Hansen, lightning apparently struck twice.
Buffalo, New York's Hotel Etiquette is the solo project of the aforementioned Pentimento drummer Mike Hansen. What was supposed to be a quarantine-inspired bedroom lo-fi project turned into something a little more... dramatic. The project's debut EP Sex Questions - recorded with Paul Besch at Quiet Country Audio and mixed/mastered by Nick Diener of The Swellers at Oneder Studios in July of 2020 - was quickly followed by a split release and two singles, laying exciting groundwork for the release of EP2, Ex Questions, this spring.
Ex Questions takes a little inspiration from its title, at times, a sobering reflection on loneliness and the effects of our decisions. And at others, it takes an aggressive lashing at life itself because what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, or at least, stronger in the broken places. What begins as dreamlike and tranquil quickly transforms into an incredible force of Rock and Roll punctuated by razor-sharp guitars, thunderous drums, and musical bent. What's more impressive is that the EP does not stop there. In fact, the dichotomy between the two waxes and wanes wonderfully, coming together to make a truly endearing release.
Mike Hansen had this to say about the EP:
"Wake up in a cold sweat and realize your whole existence is about proving to yourself that you're here to create. Choose to make art because you have no choice. Art now makes you. Drive. Spend concrete dollars on abstract ideas. Try. Search until found. Your home is built from patterns of pride and shame in your own inventions. You don't just visit. You live here now. Drive. You are a human being and you can do anything."
Sincere, powerful, and brimming with passion, Ex Questions runs the gamut of human emotion. Buy the ticket, take the candid ride.