The magic of a high-quality, easily searched and streamed music archive has transformed the way I listen to music. When I hear a song I like, it now takes me less than 30 seconds to find the album and begin playing on my office computer or phone.
There are a few drawbacks - not every album or artist is available (Joanna Newsom is a particularly galling example), and occasionally I find myself without a reliable cellphone or WiFi signal. But these are minor issues. Overall, the ultimate convenience, the *modern-ness* of it all still blows my mind. To me, this is better than a flying car (of course, I don't even own a normal car). And this convenience has, in the last few years, rekindled my love of the art of the album.
It seems to me that independent music in general has benefited from digital distribution by allowing artists to more easily break from the more conventional constraints of genre. I see a lot of experimentation here, running all the way up to the Dirty Projectors' avant-garde classical composition style. Growing up in the 90's, I enjoyed Pearl Jam and Nirvana well enough, but much of the "alternative" music that I listened to at the time sounded (and still sounds) rather similar to my ears, e.g. Grunge. The ones that sounded different really stood out, and I still cherish them for it (I'm looking at you, Pixies). Maybe I'm biased now by access to more music and better DJs, but I find the modern American music scene incredibly vibrant and diverse. Every month, I can look forward to new releases from favorite artists, as well as finding something or someone new to open my eyes and make my day.
What follows is an unordered list of albums that I've recently developed a strong relationship with. These albums cover a wide range of the acoustic/electronic spectrum. I enjoy repetitive, energetic music when I'm working or juggling or cleaning; I love the emotion and classic song-writing of "folk" and "country"; and I love the driving anthems of modern indie. Consequently, I like to think there's "something for everyone" here. And each of these is an *album*, a free-standing work of art worthy of repeated enjoyment in its uncensored, unedited entirety.