There is no shortage of smart, beautiful things going on at Pitchfork. The indie music site launched a new feature this year called Advance, a section dedicated to full-album streams of select upcoming releases. NPR has been doing something similar for a while with their First Listen series (since 2008, I believe), but there’s something immediately more compelling about the way Pitchfork presents these albums. Aside from the handsome player, I love that each stream gets some sort of unique visual accompaniment, consistent with the site’s terrific art direction. Even if you’re likely to minimize it while you’re listening, the looping images give you an immediate tonal hint at what’s to come the moment you open the album — helpful if you’re checking out something completely unfamiliar.
I find that with NPR’s pre-release streams, I only listen to upcoming albums from bands I already know; Pitchfork is finding new and interesting ways to get me to listen to something new and interesting.