This article from Rolling Stone pretty much nails the state (sonically, at least) of the recording industry. iPods, ProTools, compression and AutoTuners have all conspired to make music sound really different than it did just a few years ago.
It's a really good article, and from my perspective it's pretty much spot on. Whoever did the article did their homework - the first couple of paragraphs I was thinking "yeah, but all these records sound loud because they're overcompressed." Then comes a whole paragraph about compression. Then I'm thinking about Oasis' What's the Story Morning Glory as being the first record I recognized as sounding "different" and how everybody in that era started going for that "Britpop sound" and lo and behold they mention that too.
Honestly I don't really mind it to a point. For most rock music, "loud is good". What also bothers me is how so many car and home stereos have these God-awful EQ settings or faux surround modes that you can't turn off. You basically never hear an album the way it was recorded.
I do wonder if everything being made right now is going to sound REALLY dated in a few years...
(Via the observant Jabob Ward)