Matt Lipkins’s artist recommendation: “Back in 2009, my bandmates and I were writing some of our first songs together. We hadn’t formed any sort of identity yet; we knew we liked what each other brought to the table and that we had common tastes, but we didn’t know how to bring those tastes together into something that still fit on “the table.” Alas, we had three writers writing three very different types of songs. Dig? Scott brought in some very large scale, classical, emotional pop sensibilities in line with Elton or Billy Joel. I was trying to write a sequel to Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane and Adam was still finding his voice, discovering old folk and moving away from the Jason Mraz-y stuff he did in high school. One night I introduced D’angelo’s Voodoo to the other guys and our feelings about it were pretty mutual: it’s the baddest shit ever. It had huge pocket, it was raw, the vocal harmonies were like nothing we’d heard before, and it was sexy. Great, so we knew that we wanted to incorporate some of this into our new songs. But it still left us scratching our heads, thinking, “well, how do we incorporate all of the other stuff that we love into our music?”
Later that summer, my cousin sent me a few tracks from a Swedish artist by the name of Magnus Tingsek (or Tingsek for short) and I then realized I had to change my vision for what I thought The Shadowboxers music could sound like…cause this guy had nailed it already. I must have listened to those six songs (off of his 2006 album World Of Its Own) every day for two months and every listen was more exciting than the last. I don’t really know where to begin about his stuff, so I’ll just brain vomit and hope that it comes out somewhat legibly.
For me, when listening to music for the first time, I need to be excited by hearing something new. Something needs to stimulate my ear in a way that it hasn’t before. Sometimes it’s a melody or a new sound, sometimes it’s a voice (see: Michael Kiwanuka or The Tallest Man on Earth), sometimes it’s musicianship, and often it’s harmonies or chords that I wasn’t expecting to hear next to one another. When listening to Tingsek for the first time, all of these things were present simultaneously. Track 1 off the album, for example, is Good Way of Life. Right as i’m getting used to the bright guitar meeting the drum beat, a flute motif is introduced and now we’ve got two melodies playing between a rhythm pocket that’s somehow funky even though the emphasis is on the 1 and the and of 3. WHAT? Somehow, all of these traditional instruments are played/recorded in ways that sound so light and refreshing (due to the stellar musicianship, I’m convinced) that vintage sounds somehow shine in ways i’ve never heard before. It sounds like the album was recorded in your uncle’s basement…but he’s way hipper than you. And you can’t beat his harmonies; they’re on par with D’angelo! They’re loose, sometimes indistinguishable, but always wonderful. Sorry to sound like a music critic, but it seemed like the best way to describe WHY his sound is so affecting.
And this is how most songs of his play out; the guy somehow manages to combine very organic, smart, and warm instrumentation with these out-of-bounds vocals that hit so hard because they sound like they’re taken from an entirely separate genre of music. The melodies are unexpected and take you on a journey (which is really what music should do, right?). Does he make “soulful pop”? “Poppy soul”? I don’t know, I don’t care, it’s Tingsek.”
New to Magnus Tingsek? Matt suggests you start here: “Start with his 2009 album Restless Soul. Good vs. Bad is an amazing track.
About our guest author, Matt Lipkins: Matt Lipkins is a vocalist and keys player for The Shadowboxers, a young group from Atlanta that landed a rare opportunity in 2012: an invitation to be the opener AND backing band for The Indigo Girls. One listen to the group and you can see why Matt and company were a perfect fit for the task. The Shadowboxers pride themselves on old school recording techniques and beautiful three-part harmonies, making them the perfect act to warm up the Indigo crowd and bolster their own musical arrangements on stage. The collaboration went so well that the boys lent some of those fantastic vocals to the new Indigo Girls record, Beauty Queen Sister. But enough about The Indigos. The Shadowboxers have an album of their own called Red Room which was produced by veteran Brady Blade (Dave Matthews, Citizen Cope, Emmylou Harris, yeah, pretty awesome resume…). The band also played on a fantastic set on Daytrotter that brings to mind the best Hall and Oates stuff. Be sure to check The Shadowboxer’s tour page and site to find out when they may bring their greatness your way.