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Soundfly’s 2017 Year-End Music Favorites: Albums, Songs, Articles, and More!

It’s getting a little ridiculous now. Too much great, new music is coming out every single week, and it’s tough to keep up. And since we here at Soundfly HQ can be found, most weeks, grooving out to the new, freshly composed, produced, and mixed sounds of our talented students alongside all the commercially released music out there, it’s even harder for us to keep track of it all.

Thanks to a healthy community culture of in-office sharing, however, we’re still able to keep our heads above water and cover most of what’s out there. Here is our list of our favorite musical moments of 2017!

Marty Fowler (Course Producer, Soundfly Mentor)

Favorite Album(s)

Mount Kimbie – Love What Survives, Queens of the Stone Age – Villains, Bonobo – Migration, (hon. mention) Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy

Favorite Track

Mount Kimbie & King Krule – “Blue Train Lines”

Favorite Video

Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”

Favorite Concert

The ratio of shows I saw this year to shows I played is abysmal… I gotta get out more!! That said, seeing Rafiq Bhatia and Son Lux play a super raw show at the tiny Three’s Brewing upstairs in Gowanus, Brooklyn, was f*$%ing rad!

Favorite New Artist

SIBA. As recommended by a Soundfly Mainstage student — SIBA has some dope dance tracks out that are heavy on sampling and some classic early rave-era sounds and techniques that I’m super happy to hear are in again. Fun stuff!

Favorite Flypaper Article

“Where Have All the V Chords Gone? The Decline of ‘Functional’ Harmony in Pop”

I love a good nerd-out session and few more than a frank discussion about music theory and harmony in contemporary popular music. Sign me up!

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

FADERS Up: Modern Mix Techniques I

This course fundamentally changed what I thought was possible for a Soundfly course. I think we deconstructed a broad, ethereal, abstract topic into its essential component parts in an accessible and actionable way. It’s not that we weren’t doing that before, but we did it so concisely, with such precision and accuracy, that it feels like a real first product that I’m very very proud to show and support to friends and others.

Jeremy Young (Editor-in-Chief, Flypaper)

Favorite Album(s)

Sampha – Process, Ryuichi Sakamoto – async, Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers, Kelela – Take Me Apart, (hon. mention) Lawrence English – Cruel Optimism

Favorite Track

Sampha – “Blood On Me”

Favorite Video

Portugal. The Man – “Rich Friends”

Favorite Concert

Mozart’s Quintet in E-flat Major for Piano and Winds, K. 452 performed in a pyramid-shaped, chamber-music room in the Laurentian Mountains in Québec. Picture this: First snow of the year, driving up through powder-covered pines, we approach a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired modernist house in the woods that used to belong to Charles-Émile Trudeau’s wife, with a giant wooden pyramid attached via one of its wings.

This is the setting where a private recital of one of Mozart’s late-chamber pieces was to be performed to perfection to an audience of about 50 people. After its 1784 premiere, Mozart wrote of the Quintet in E-flat that, “I, myself, consider it to be the best thing I have written in my life.”

Favorite Flypaper Article

“That Time a Stock Photo Connected Us to the Hardest Working Band in Brazil”

As the Editor of Flypaper, it should’ve probably been much more difficult for me to choose a favorite from this year — especially as this year has seen 300 new articles published and literally hundreds of those have been some of the best music writing I’ve ever read. The reason this one was such a no-brainer is simply because of how much pure joy this story gave me as it unfolded, and how magical this coincidental experience was for all of us. And that’s all I’m gonna say about it, so just read the article!

Favorite New Artist

I really don’t listen to a lot of new artists, but I do really like this album by Le fruit vert (who were new to me this year).

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Digital Pedalboards with Kaki King

Not the most glamorous course we launched, nor is it the deepest, but Digital Pedalboards does something that I think bears the mark of all great courses: It demystifies the creative process of a true genius. This course looks at how and why Kaki King uses a simplified digital effects rack to compose new sounds and music integrated with her artistic voice. It’s simple, concise, and inspiring and gets you back on your instrument faster.

Ian Temple (CEO and Founder, Soundfly Mentor)

Favorite Album

Max Richter – Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works

Favorite Track

Håkan Hellström – “Du gamla (That’s Alright Since My Soul Got a Seat Up in the Kingdom)”

Also, my guilty pleasure: Daniel Cesar’s “We Find Love”

Favorite Video

Young Thug – “Wyclef Jean”

Favorite Concert

Always Julia Kent. One of my favorite artists to see live. The textures she builds and the intensity she creates are powerful and mesmerizing. I’ve been lucky in the past two years that we’ve been able to play with her a few times, and every time, it’s a treat I look forward to.

Favorite New Artist

I don’t think she’s released anything official just yet, but I’m going to have to choose our very own Soundfly student artist Lisa Reshkus. Music can be more powerful when you know the story behind it and the work that’s gone into it, and I’ve been so excited to hear Lisa’s latest music that shows just how far she’s come as an artist and musician.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“The Best Guitar Music in the World is Coming from Agadez”

First of all, I just love the music coming out of Agadez right now. The combo of dirty, distorted guitar sounds with drones and afro-beat-influenced drums is so fantastic. Secondly, as a huge Purple Rain fan, it’s just amazing to me that Mdou Moctar remade that entire film in a completely different context. Thirdly, I love his version of “Purple Rain.” (Teaser: It shares nothing in common with Prince’s version except that it’s a stunning piece of music that brings down the house.) So yeah, when I saw that one of our best authors, Max Alper, was going to be covering this topic, I was really psyched to hear what he would unearth — and he did not disappoint.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Making a course with Kaki King this year was an honor and a treat. Hearing her talking about her relationship with music and the guitar in particular inspired me to rethink elements of my own musical setup. That said, the course we made with her wasn’t exactly for me. I think the course that’s really got me more excited than any course we’ve made to date is our Faders Up: Modern Mix Techniques I course. It includes insights from nine of the best mixing engineers around today, who were so wonderful to work with, and I’ve been psyched to hear how much progress students have been making already with it.

Mahea Lee (VP of Learning and Curriculum Development)

Favorite Album

Dirty Projectors – Dirty Projectors

Favorite Track

Elliot Moss – “Without the Lights”

Favorite Video

St. Vincent – “Los Ageless”

Favorite Concert

The Magnetic Fields’ “50 Song Memoir.” I feel like most concert experiences (no matter how incredible they are) follow a similar routine: show up, have a drink, dance if you’re bold, bob your head if you’re me, run into someone you know, make some small talk with someone you don’t know, hopefully feel emotionally moved by the musical performances, and call it a night.

The live show for “50 Song Memoir” was a more unique experience. Because the work is essentially an autobiography, I walked away feeling as though I had gotten to know someone and experience a bit of the world through his eyes. Also, I happened to see it at Royce Hall, where a team of poets sat at typewriters in the lobby composing poems about anyone willing to answer a few questions during intermission. So I went on a musical journey through Stephin Merritt’s life and a stranger wrote a poem about me. All in all, pretty memorable.

Favorite New Artist

There’s a Los Angeles band called The Marìas that released their first EP this year. Their music is mesmerizing, their aesthetic is captivating, and their bass player actually instructs two of our courses. Obvious biases aside, their sound is reminiscent of well-loved artists from countless genres and time periods, while bringing something unique, fresh, and undeniably hip to the table.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“Student Spotlight: Listen to 6 Tracks From Our Latest Student Artists”

I’m so proud of our community and the musical growth we’ve seen this year. This article features the work of some really passionate and motivated artists. Getting some additional insight into their creative processes was a super rewarding experience for me. I’m looking forward to more articles like this one in the very near future!

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Faders Up: Modern Mix Techniques I

We’ve been talking about doing a course like this for a while, and when I saw what the production team had done with it, I was blown away. It’s thorough, accessible, and most impressively, entertaining. Pair that with the guidance of the incredible mentors working on that course, and I really do feel like anyone can get a lot out of it.

John Hull (Head of Production, Soundfly Mentor)

Favorite Album

Vulfpeck – Mr. Finish Line

Favorite Song

Nick Hakim – “Needy Bees”

Favorite Video

Gorillaz – “Saturnz Barz”

Favorite Concert

Mandolin Orange at The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC. I’ve probably seen them once a year for the last four years. Every year, their set always feels fresh.

Favorite New Artist

Nick Hakim. Just really enjoying the new record! It’s got a lot of refreshing tones, and I’ve really enjoyed the production.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“(Artificial) Space Is the Place: A Reverb Tech Primer”

I’ve probably pointed at this article too many times this year. It’s just a great way to start getting your bearings with reverb and the controls and quirks of each of its forms.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

How to Get All the Royalties You Never Knew Existed

This course was as a severe reminder that music has so many sides to it. Researching and wrapping my head around this course helped me grasp concepts I previously didn’t fully understand or appreciate. The resulting course is probably the most comprehensive and digestible version of this material you can find anywhere online. Hats off to Nick Lerman for some great videos and for Ari Herstand literally writing the book on the topic.

Zoë Young (Head of Community)

Favorite Album

St. Vincent – Masseduction

Favorite Song

Kweku Collins – “Lucky Ones”

Favorite Video

Francis and the Lights – “May I Have This Dance” (feat. Chance The Rapper)

Favorite Concert

Sontag Shogun at the Eufonic Festival in San Carlos de la Ràpita, Spain — I’ve spent most of 2017 either very pregnant or tending to a new baby, so I’ve been to practically no concerts, which is lame. But, when my baby was four months old, we took him on tour with Ian and Jeremy’s band, Sontag Shogun, across Spain and Portugal, which was pretty badass. All of the shows on the tour were amazing, but I think my favorite was the first one.

The space they played was an arts center created out of the ruins of a 17th century, half-finished royal church that had been encased in a huge glass cube. The sound was amazing, and the venue had smoke machines hooked up in the ceiling and purple up-lights on the floor, so that as the sun went down, the band had this eerie purple cloud appear over them as they played. It was awesome.

Favorite New Artist

Sampha. This one I know I liked independently before Spotify decided I liked him and also put him on all my playlists. Or maybe my brain algorithm has become sentient.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“The Statistical Analysis of the 70 Most Popular Disney Songs You’ve Always Wanted”

The amount of work that went into this article is completely insane. Honorable mention to this stupid article, which is dumb, but also really good: “Tales from the Toilet: Truth vs. Fiction in Musical Stories of the Bathroom.”

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Digital Pedalboards with Kaki King

I loved watching this one come together. Arthur went to a conference with Kaki King and came into the office the next day saying, “We should do a course with her. She’s so rad.” Jason responded by being totally starstruck by even the idea of doing a course with her, saying she was his biggest guitar idol. Ian and Arthur went to her next show in New York and just chatted with her, and she was psyched by the idea. John flew in from North Carolina to film it. It was just so heartwarming to watch a course come about through such earnest admiration and enthusiasm.

Arthur Lewis (Head of Product)

Favorite Album

Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy

Favorite Track

Tyler, the Creator – “Boredom”

Favorite Video

Sesame Street – “El Patito” (“Despacito” parody)

Favorite Concert

Krystle Warren at Greenwich House Music School. Such a fantastic singer and songwriter. The highlight: when she called out to the audience to find out if someone she knew was there. When she found out he was, she stepped off the stage and started singing a duet with him, to everyone’s surprise, including his. I think it turned out they’d rehearsed it years ago but never got to perform it.

Honorable mention goes to Esperanza Spalding’s 77-hour-live-streamed Exposure recording session. Not a concert, per se, but definitely one of the most memorable “live” music experiences I’ve had in years.

Favorite New Artist

Nick Hakim. I’d been hearing his name around for the past few years but never really paid enough attention. But then his Green Twins album hit a few months ago, and, man, there is some great stuff on there!

Favorite Flypaper Article

“Student Spotlight: Listen to 6 Tracks From Our Latest Student Artists”

Holy smokes, our students are talented.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Faders Up: Modern Mix Techniques I

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to learn to mix my own music — from books to videos to other online courses — and nothing I’ve seen has been nearly as helpful as this course seems to be for our students. Every time I hear one of their mixes, I think “man, I need to take this course!”

Nyle Emerson (Course Producer)

Favorite Album

NxWorries – Yes Lawd!

Favorite Track

Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow”

Favorite Video

Phum Viphurit – “Long Gone”

Favorite Concert

Jorja Smith at the AfroPunk Festival. It’s my favorite festival of the year and a great place to hear newer acts perform live.

Favorite New Artist

Yaeji. Her swag is undeniable.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“Student Spotlight: Listen to 6 Tracks from Our Latest Student Artists”

It seems a few of us share this sentiment.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Fader’s Up: Modern Mix Techniques I

This one’s very close to my heart because it was the first course I produced with the Soundfly team!

Lisa Occhino (Director of Marketing and Communications)

Favorite Album(s)

Lorde – Melodrama, Julia Michaels – Nervous System, Sigrid – Don’t Kill My Vibe

Favorite Track

Sigrid – “Don’t Kill My Vibe”

Favorite Video

Young Thug – “Wyclef Jean” [see above]

Favorite Concert

A tango orchestra at Buenos Ayres Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I don’t even know what the name of the orchestra was because I somewhat randomly ended up there, but I remember the performance giving me chills — I’ll never forget it.

Favorite New Artist

Julia Michaels. She’s been quietly killing it as a hit songwriter for years (and she’s only 24!), so it’s really cool to see that she’s finally coming into the spotlight herself now.

Favorite Flypaper Article

“Hear a Never-Before-Seen 1986 Dexter Gordon Piece, Played by 8 Different Artists”

I love that a completely out-of-the-blue email from one of our students led to such an incredible story.

Favorite Soundfly Course Launched This Year

Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords

…Because I’m a huge music theory nerd, and the connection between harmony and emotions is so fascinating to me.

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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.