Hotline TNT “Cartwheel” Album Review

“Shoegaze” is a term which has been thrown around almost too much the last ten years or so. From the return of legendary, genre-forming groups like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, to generations of younger people putting their own twist on the genre through many different perspectives. Some people tend to label anything with a guitar running through a distortion and a delay pedal, but the truth is that “shoegaze” has changed greatly since its inception in the early 80s. 

I’m not sure if Will Anderson, mastermind of NYC-based band Hotline TNT, would describe their new album Cartwheel as “shoegaze”. In all likelihood he’d say something like “be quiet, I’m watching this basketball game”. 

“Spot Me 100”
Hotline TNT photo by Wes Knoll

This is Hotline TNT’s second full-length, and first release for Third Man, Jack White’s Detroit-based label. While the songs have a lot of the same audio characteristics of Andersons previous compositions: notably fuzzy guitar leads, blown out drums, all under an acute sense of melody and hookiness, this effort sounds more mature as an entire project. There’s a flow to this record that wasn’t present on the last full length, 2019’s Nineteen In Love: the ups of fast and catchy tracks (“Out Of Town”, “Son In Law”) as well as low-tempo moodier tracks (“BMX”, “Beauty Filter”, and the stellar album-closer “Stump”).

Sandwiched between the multiple guitar tracks are tasteful keyboards and samples: credited to “DJ Big Poison”, which is one of Anderson’s monikers. Though few in number, the addition of these elevate a lot of the songs. “Spot Me 100” could’ve been a fairly standard fuzzy barn-burner, but a sped-up drum sample comes in, alongside some record scratching and DJ effects, building up to an incredible double-time outro that would cause anyone to turn their stereo up. 

Cartwheel is out now on Third Man Records, and tune into Noteworthy’s Freeform Channel to hear cuts from the album.

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