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Soundfly’s 2016 Year-End Music Favorites: Albums, Songs, Articles, and More!

favorite albums 2016

Here at Soundfly HQ, we’re always sharing new music with each other. But this year was so full of distractions — losing so many of our musical heroes, saying goodbye to arguably our most musical president, the music and media worlds being swept up in the madness of the election — that it’s been easy to forget about all the amazing musical gifts we’ve gotten along the way. So Team Soundfly decided to stop and reflect on the blissful single and album releases, epic live concerts and tours, and some of our very favorite work we’ve done this year. Here is our list of our favorite musical moments of 2016!

And in case you missed it, head over to our “A Look Back at 2016: Deaths in Music This Year” to read our tribute to all those who passed away this year in the music industry.

John Hull (Head of Production)

Favorite Album

Mandolin Orange — Blindfaller

Favorite Track

Miike Snow — “Genghis Khan”

Favorite Video

DJ Shadow feat. Run the Jewels — “Nobody Speak”

Favorite Concert

Dolly Parton @ Forest Hills Stadium. I can’t believe I went, and I can’t believe I liked it.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“The Legacy of the Super Bowl Shuffle, and the History of NFL Pop Music”

It’s so silly and informative. It reminds you that there’s a history behind every piece of music; even silly NFL pop jingles.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Theory for Producers

This was just a fun series to make, and Ethan Hein’s love for teaching and nerding out on the details is captivating. It was also informative to make. It’d been a while since I’d done much modal theory, and it was a good refresher. Looking forward to putting together a Mainstage course with him soon!

Jeremy Young (Managing Editor, Flypaper)

Favorite Album

Radiohead — A Moon Shaped Pool

Favorite Track

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds —”Jesus Alone”

Favorite Video

David Bowie — “Lazarus”

Favorite Concert

Land of Talk / Little Scream @ Theatre Fairmount. There’s a lot happening in Montreal, pretty much all the time, under the radar, beneath the blankets of snow. These two lady-led bands are some of the most dynamic, exciting acts across the city right now. That show was memorable.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“The Weird and Creepy World of String Harmonics”

If I could choose one of my own articles, I’d choose the interview I had the privilege to do with one of my compositional idols, Michael Pisaro. But there’s another gift that keeps giving on Flypaper. If you have ten minutes to get your mind blown, and learn about something you’ve probably never thought twice about, head to “The Weird and Creepy World of String Harmonics”!

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Introduction to the Composer’s Craft

Some courses take less than a month to make… And then there’s the Composer’s Craft... Working with Tim Hansen, one of the most inspiring contemporary composers to most of us here at Soundfly, has been a dream come true, but it was ever so slightly inconvenient with him living in Australia. This course took two years to make. That said, I think it’s the best course we have on the site, so informative and entertaining, and I’m so happy it’s finally published!

Ian Temple (CEO and Founder)

Favorite Album

Chance the Rapper — Coloring Book

Favorite Track

Radiohead — “Burn the Witch.”  This is the complete song for me. It uses an interesting orchestration technique, it has dynamism and an overall crescendo flow. And it highlights Thom Yorke’s voice at its best…. But also… CL’s “Lifted.”

Favorite Video

Radiohead — “Burn the Witch.” Too prescient though.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“Composer Erik Satie Was So Much Weirder Than You Realize”

For me personally, writing an article about composers who covered the wars of the early 20th century was a powerful experience. Reflecting on the output of those wars and the consequences and how those things were expressed through music was beautiful, compelling, and moving.

In terms of other people’s articles, I just giggled so much when I read that Erik Satie article, and I really enjoyed the one recently on intersections between classical and electronic music.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Two of them: Orchestration for Strings because I’ve enjoyed seeing our students in that course learn and grow so much, and the Chiptune Crash Course series, because it’s just so much fun and unlike anything else that exists out there!

Mahea Lee (VP of Learning and Curriculum Development)

Favorite Album(s)

Andy Shauf — The Party 

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down — A Man Alive

Bon Iver — 22, A Million

Favorite Track

Thirdstory — “G Train”

Favorite Video

Andrew Bird ft. Fiona Apple — “Left Handed Kisses”

Favorite Concert

Sufjan Stevens, Kurt Vile, and Ibeyi @ The Hollywood Bowl. New music, old music, and a balloon suit?!

Favorite Flypaper Article

“Poetry in Motion: Lyrical Layers in Frank Ocean’s ‘Endless'”

I have a deep respect for Syl, so when I saw how excited he was about “Endless,” I decided to sit down and watch it in its entirety, without any distractions. And I’m really glad I did. I think the desire to understand why you love what you love is the key to discovering who you are as an artist, and the ability to share those findings with each other — without any ulterior motives — pushes us forward as a musical community.

I guess what I’m saying is that when Syl wrote this article, all of music got a little bit better.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Introduction to the Composer’s Craft

Tim is a wonderful instructor, and the course does a really good job of gently tossing new composers into the deep end, while offering those with a little more experience some fresh insights.

Zoë Young (Director of Digital Marketing)

Favorite Album

Beyoncé — Lemonade

Favorite Song

Blood Orange — “Best to You”

Favorite Video

I know I should pick an important or interesting music video here, but Jeremy found this music video for a Slovenian band called Soundfly singing their hit single “Sledi mi” and it is my favorite thing.

Favorite Concert

Beyoncé @ Citi Field. I’m not a monster, and I’m not going to sit here and pretend like a Beyoncé show even exists in the same universe as most of the indie, experimental shows I go to in bars and basements. It was lush and lavish and a total spectacle. The water stage was the coolest thing. And we went on Prince’s birthday, and so even though I know she did Prince tributes at a bunch of shows during the Formation Tour, it felt like something really special and just for us.

Honorable mention: I didn’t go to any of these shows, so don’t feel as though I can put it on my list, but as a Canadian, I want to give a shoutout to Gord Downie’s farewell tour with The Tragically Hip. It was a really cathartic and emotional and important tour for an entire country.

Favorite Flypaper Article(s)

“Rock Legend June Millington: Study the Blues, Be Empathetic, and Run Your Own PA”

“Mastering Band Promotion with a Step-by-Step Daily Routine”

I’m going for a Sophie Chernin double header. Her June Millington article made me really proud of our little publication. And then I really love it when an article gives you a glimpse into the thought process of someone who is better at doing something than you are, and I though Sophie’s “Mastering Band Promotion with a Step-by-Step Daily Routine” was a really good example of just that.

But…. I’d like to add an extra category to this list — Most Underrated Flypaper Article of the Year — because it is beyond my comprehension why this article was not our most read of the year.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

A Conversation with the Blues

For our production team, this course was SUCH a beast to film and edit, that I don’t think any of them would even count it as having happened this year — it feels like something they’ve been working on for eons. But as the only person on the team who didn’t catch a glimpse of it until it was finished, it totally blew me away. It’s so nerdy and impassioned and Vince’s enthusiasm is contagious.

Martin Fowler (Associate Producer)

Favorite Album

Moderat — III

Favorite Song

Rihanna —  “Same Ol’ Mistakes” (Tame Impala cover)

Favorite Video

Aphex Twin — “CIRKLON3″

Favorite Concert

Radiohead @ Madison Square Garden. It was my first time seeing Radiohead, and a long time coming. They played some stuff off the new record, but hearing some of the great songs from earlier records was a mind-blowing, cathartic experience. Plus, they’re just an incredible, tight live band.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“The Singer’s Diet: 20 Things a Vocalist Should and Shouldn’t Eat Before a Show”

After five weeks of seeing a singer on the road live this diet, I can completely attest to its validity. But, beyond that, I think it’s important for everyone to pay attention to keeping good health a high priority on the road.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Alternate Tunings for the Creative Guitarist

A really, really fun course series that was great for just where I am in my guitar playing. It was surprisingly challenging but also pushed me to take on performances I didn’t think I could perform at first, and transformed me into an alternate tunings master.

Nick Lerman (Associate Producer)

Favorite Album

Chance the Rapper — Coloring Book

Favorite Track

Beyoncé — “Pray You Catch Me”

Favorite Video

Rihanna — “Needed Me” (NSFW)

Favorite Concert

Two nights of Radiohead @ Madison Square Garden. I tried to get secondhand tickets, failed, and then was lucky enough to go both nights, thanks to friends with extra tickets. Despite my initial desire to go, I was cynically expecting an over-the-hill band. But they brought it. And they brought it big, strong, and hard.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“Rock Legend June Millington: Study the Blues, Be Empathetic, and Run Your Own PA”

New things are always exciting to us humans. I had never heard of June Millington before reading this article. Her backstory, her mission with the IMA (her organization that helps girls in music “in any way”), her music, of course, and her inspiring life served as a respite in an otherwise difficult musical year (Bowie, Prince, Cohen, etc.).

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Making Music from Everyday Items

Although it was just released recently, Andrew Huang’s course, in which he builds a bumping track in Ableton Live from the sampled sounds of a kitchen pot, is my favorite course of the year. His process is intuitive, translatable, and fun, and his beat is just so funky.

Jason Tanner (Developer)

Favorite Album

Explosions in the Sky — The Wilderness

Favorite Track

brothel. — “FORGETME” (w/divine)

Favorite Video

Radiohead — “Daydreaming”

Favorite Concert

BadBadNotGood @ The Java Jazz Festival. This is the first concert I’ve seen BBNG’s new saxophonist Leland Whitty. Considering a lot of their pieces have a sax, it was great to see this live. Their music ability really shined through here.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“How to Create the Unmistakable Keyboard Sound in “Everything in Its Right Place”

I absolutely love Radiohead. I’m also learning about synthesizers and recreating sounds from my favorite albums. Marty’s article helped me rebuild a synth sound I really dig. I can’t express how much I love articles like these that help me to understand synthesizers.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Introduction to the Composer’s Craft

I’m horrible at composition. I will spend months and months on a single 2-minute song, working with no direction. This course reinforced my understanding of the elements within a song or piece. Since I now know the various elements, I can prevent myself from going into a downward spiral of time-sucking composition. Why does this sound bad? Oh, it may be an inappropriate texture. How can I fix it? Maybe it should be polyphonic. Thoughts like this never crossed my mind before Composition was released.

Arthur Lewis (Head of Product)

Favorite Album

Anderson .Paak — Malibu

Favorite Track

Justin Timberlake — “Can’t Stop the Feeling”

Favorite Video

The Hamiltones — “Put Some Respeck on It”

Favorite Concert

Emily King @ Music Hall of Williamsburg. I’ve seen Emily pretty much every time she’s played in NY over the past 5 years, and it’s always amazing. Her writing, her band — all just absurd.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“Every Single Thing You Need to Play The Synth Bass Part from Bruno Mars’ ’24k Magic'”

It’s the “Every Single Thing” part that gets me. I love an article (or a video or a course) that can get you from Point A to Point B all by itself. No need to hunt around for stuff that doesn’t get covered — just show up, put in the time, done.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Getting Started with Chip Music

There’s something about trying to make music on a weird screen with numbers and dashes that really gets you out of your usual habits, and forces you to just have fun making music. I never thought I’d be so excited about a major scale!

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Soundfly Team

Soundfly is a new kind of music school for today's musician. We create creative courses and daily articles for the curious musician. Meet the whole Soundfly Team here.

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