Despite how nerdy I am about music I am NOT a hipster. A hipster is usually in the know about things so underground that they will try and convince you that they are the first to have dug it up. It looks like the most exhausting identity one could shackle themselves too, so I pretty much never find myself in the know. Not so with Queen Daxene’s Backward Tractor Motion. For once, I feel as if I have plucked an undiscovered gem. I can’t believe it! How can these songs not even have 1000 listens on Spotify? There is not one moment on this debut that ISN’T a hook! So what gives? How can music so contagious and well produced be dwelling in obscurity when it should at least be part of any 2010’s indie rock playlist?
The answer is simple. Queen Daxene has literally NO social media presence which is pretty much career suicide in the internet age. It’s so dire that I can’t find ANYTHING about them. All I know is that they come from U.K. and you can find their masterful album on any streaming service available. The theory I have is that they put everything they had into writing, recording and performing this album and the effort is VERY evident! The arrangements are dense but never too busy and the melodies are simple but never generic. There is also a familiarity that makes it easy to hum along without thinking that anyone has been ripped off.
That’s not to say that Queen Daxene don’t wear their influences on their sleeve. It’s VERY easy to see that they are from the U.K. The pastoral wistfulness of The Kinks is ever present as is the romanticism of The Beatles. Before you accuse them, however, of being a band like Greta Van Fleet, it’s clear that they also have an affinity for the early 2000’s bands like Phoenix and The New Pornographers and aren’t shy to experiment with modern production techniques. All of this makes for an immediately likeable album that also manages to keep you on your toes.
The best tracks are the ones that do ALL of this in under three minutes. Album highlight “Made in China” is addictive and edgy with pop-punk vocals that are modulated on the chorus (amazingly sounding like The Chipmunks as punk rockers) and cryptic lyrics that refer to its target as a “human weathervane”. “Marco Polo” is equally impressive in that it could have been produced anytime in the last five decades but is still very much a part of today’s current cultural climate. Lines like “Live fast die young/Read all about it/And don’t get caught with your bottoms down,” can’t help but make me think of modern celebrity scandals that somehow still seem to be on the rise.
There is so much gold to be dug up here it’s ridiculous! As much as I enjoy the feeling of being in on a well-kept secret, it doesn’t make any sense that Queen Daxene’s Backward Tractor Motion is barely being listened to! Not only do they sound like other more popular indie acts, but they are also weird and “out there” enough not to be deemed derivative; they are a treasure waiting to be discovered. It seems their one fatal flaw is that their lack of desire to promote themselves and their music. Perhaps they only want to make it and remain a mystery. Still, I can’t help but think this is wasted talent despite their sure to be fervent albeit small fanbase. Oh well, at the very least, I’ve boosted my non-existent hipster cred.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Mike Milito