Robin Hilton

Robin Hilton is the producer and co-host for the popular NPR Music show All Songs Considered.

In addition to his work on All Songs, Hilton curates NPR Music's First Listen series, a weekly showcase of select albums you can read about and hear in their entirety before they're officially released.

Prior to joining NPR in 2000, Hilton co-founded Small Good Thing Productions, a non-profit production company for independent film, radio and music in Athens, GA.

Hilton lived and worked in Japan as an interpreter for the government, and taught English as a second language to junior high school students.

From 1989 to 1996, Hilton worked for NPR member stations KANU and WUGA as a senior producer and assistant news director and was a long-time contributing reporter to NPR's daily news programs All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

Hilton is also a multi-instrumentalist and composer. His original scores have appeared in work from National Geographic, Center Stage and in films, including the documentary Open Secret. Hilton also arranged and performed the theme for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. You can hear more of his music here.

Along the way, Hilton worked as an emergency room orderly, a blackjack dealer and a fruitcake factory assembly lineman.

Do you ever want to hear another rock guitar solo again? That's where the fight began. Robin played a song with a lot of guitar wankery by the band Major Stars. He loved it and I frankly couldn't wait for it to end. It got me wondering: Is this sort of music even relevant in 2016?

Singer Tom Brosseau's latest video, for hew new song "You Can't Stop," is both beautiful and surreal, built from seemingly mundane moments that shiver with a strange unease. Like the unsettling undercurrents of a David Lynch movie, things aren't as pastoral or innocent as they seem.

Perhaps that's because Brosseau sees the world as a complicated place. One that's surrounded by darkness but ultimately overwhelmed by love.

Sometimes the best way to save yourself is to let go of the things that once seemed indispensable. That's what Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff had in mind when he wrote the stirring "Okkervil River R.I.P.," an elegy to his beloved band's past life.

On this week's All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton share a mix of new songs by veteran artists and shiny premieres from up-and-coming bands. Robin leads off the show with a cut from the country-folk flavored alternative rock group The Jayhawks, while Bob wheels out a premiere by the Australian band Oh Pep!.

As one of the judges for this year's Tiny Desk Contest, I was so inspired by all the incredible entries we received — the level of thought, creativity and care that went into producing them and, of course, the music people made. But I'd be lying if I said that the judging process wasn't, at least sometimes, mind-numbing. After the first 100 or so videos (out of more than six thousand submitted), your eyes and ears start to glaze over.

On this week's All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton play songs that volley between soft, sentimental pop and more abrasive rock, including The Black Ryder's show-stopping cover of George Harrison's "Isn't It A Pity," My bubba's simple, stunning vocals and the face-frying, fist-pumping, riff-heavy rock of

Bob Dylan's 1965 classic "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" is a dense masterpiece, packed with literary references and serpentine tales about a weary, uncertain life on the road. It makes a fitting score for a newly produced video, which includes rare footage from Dylan's European tour of that year.

Lord Huron's "Fool For Love" opens with a delicate wash of humming bells, a distant organ drone and a few carefully plucked strings. It's a beautiful, meditative mix that shimmers with the kind of hope and determination that only a new day can hold in its earliest hours, just after waking, before the inevitable letdown.

In our darkest hours, time seems to slow to an excruciating crawl. The mind races, desperate to find something to hold onto, while our whole sense of time, space, or even reality becomes warped. It's an unsettling but familiar feeling captured beautifully in a new video for the Chris Staples song "Hold Onto Something."

You'll want to dim the lights for this video to accompany "VHS," from composer Christina Vantzou. The title implies a primitive digital universe. But in Vantzou's world, it's more of a void — a pitch-black emptiness where a lone figure chases her own barely perceptible reflection.

Sean Rowe, 'Madman'

Jun 16, 2014

Despite its name, "Madman" has more bounce to it than much of Rowe's earlier work. But it implies you'd have to be nuts to choose a life on the road.

"Needles River" is the first single from Melaena Cadiz's upcoming album Deep Below Heaven. She wrote and recorded the song with her husband, Mikael Kennedy. Kennedy also conceived and directed the video.

Tom Brosseau possesses one of the most arresting voices in folk music today. Many people who hear him sing, without knowing his name or face, assume the voice belongs to a woman, as he hovers somewhere around the countertenor range, with an unusually pure tone.

While photographers click and shoot their way through live concerts, capturing the best moments in fractions of seconds, illustrator Michael Arthur prefers to preserve the highlights at what some might consider glacial speed, using pen and ink.

I grew up in a town of about 6,000 people in rural Kansas back in the '70s and '80s. I've never romanticized it much, though it was certainly a simpler time and, for better or worse, it's where I learned to make some sense of my life. The world you inhabit when you come of age in your teen years has a way of digging its claws in you. As the years pass, no matter how far you try to get away from it, it stays with you. The people, the places, the sounds and even the smells become a part of your DNA.

The day before Keaton Henson arrived to play the Tiny Desk, we hosted a group called The No BS! Brass Band, a nearly dozen-piece horn section with an almost brutal (and totally amazing) sound. It was one of the loudest and most thrilling, heart-pounding Tiny Desk sets we've ever had.

My first stereo had a built-in 8-track player, a turntable and a radio. My parents bought it at a local discount store for what probably seemed like a fortune to them at the time, and I used it for years. My mom eventually sold it at a garage sale. It wasn't that nice of course, but I'd love to have it back.

When singer-songwriter Grant Olney started working on his latest album, Hypnosis For Happiness, he never imagined it'd take six years to finish. But after laying down the first tracks in 2006, Olney left for the U.K. and the Netherlands to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics. After finishing a 300-page dissertation on something called "high dimensional geometry," Olney returned to music and found himself reflecting on identity, friendship and what it means to really know someone. It's a knotty mix of emotions and ideas he tackles in a touching new video for the song "Not From Body."

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