I’ll be honest, the very best part of being a member of the music media is having the opportunity to listen to music before it’s officially released. The wait for a new album from a favorite act can be insufferable, and as someone who hasn’t illegally downloaded music since, well, developing a conscience (I think it happened sometime in my mid-20s), the delivery of brand new music to my doorstep inbox is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Which is why I have a bone to pick with NPR.

Through their First Listen series, EVERYONE gets to feel like a member of the music industry elite (and not just those of us capable of buying domains through Go Daddy and stringing words together coherently). Every week, NPR shares full albums with the world prior to their official releases, and this practice is seriously affecting my ego.

For example, this week, they’re streaming the Avett Brother’s new album The Carpenter, the bluegrass/alt-country act’s second effort with super-producer Rick Rubin. They’re also offering a first listen to Cat Power’s Sun, the soulful Chan Marshall’s first album of original work since 2006’s The Greatest, and then there’s Montreal pop band Stars’ new album The North to listen to as well.

This Monday, NPR will begin sharing the highly anticipated sophomore album from the xx, Coexist, and the David Bryne/St. Vincent collaboration, Love This Giant, proving they have no plans of slowing down this First Listen business. I guess I’ll just have to find another way to feel special within the music industry. Hmm, I bet bossing around an idealistic new intern will do the trick. Yeah, that’s the ticket…

For more info:

NPR’s First Listen