Jacob Ganz

It's easy to take David Bazan's music for granted, or to turn away from it. For two decades, first as Pedro the Lion and then under his own name, he's been making songs that quietly pick apart doubts, miscommunications and personal failings in order to expose soft truths about human struggle. He's both singular and reliable, and within a narrow but potent vein of subject matter and style, he's an explorer.

In 2014, when the band Hundred Waters programmed the first installment of its FORM festival in the eco-friendly desert village known as Arcosanti, it was an entirely DIY affair.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen to a sampler of the five discs in this release with Spotify or the full five albums with the Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Over the last decade, Battles has firmly established an ethos (sweaty, impossible-sounding music constructed out of live instrumentation and loops) and a signature sound (broken-robot rock). So it's kind of surprising to realize that the musicians — once a quartet, now a trio — have only three albums, none following the same formula. Their 2007 debut, Mirrored, won fans for its hyperactive, head-nodding momentum.

"It's all love songs this time," says Mac DeMarco when we connect over Skype (cell reception at his place in Far Rockaway, Queens, is spotty) to talk about Another One, his latest mini-album. Make that love songs with little problems: Each of the songs on this charming, scruffy collection takes on love that's just out of reach, whether it's doomed from the start or just run its course. "It's just kind of like every angle of how somebody might feel if they're having strange feelings in their chest," DeMarco says.

Apple has announced the launch of Apple Music, an app that adds a subscription streaming service to iTunes, the largest music retailer in the world.

For our +1 mini-podcast this week, Bob is joined in the studio by NPR Music's Jacob Ganz to talk about how we connect to songs we love in the age of streaming. The conversation highlights what we'll miss most about physical forms of music and what we hope the future takes into account.

Sharon Van Etten's 2014 album, Are We There, was one of the more focused, devastating recordings of the year, an unflinching set of songs that trace the contours of a doomed relationship. The album doesn't spare either party — Van Etten is as critical of her own decisions as she is damning of her lover's minor cruelties and missteps. It's an uncut catharsis machine, and listening to it can wring you out.