If you don't already know about it, allow me to introduce you to NPR Music's First Listen. They stream new albums in their entirety before the albums are released. There are usually 4 or 5 available at any one time.
In reviewing the music of 2009, I was struck by how good it actually was. My first thought was that no one recording knocked me out as the run away best of the year, but there were so many exceptional ones, it was hard to pick just ten.