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.

Sufjan Stevens is sharing a rare outtake he recorded while making his 2015 album Carrie & Lowell. The song, "Wallowa Lake Monster," is one of several previously unreleased tracks included in an upcoming collection of remixes, demos and alternate versions of songs from that period.

It's hard to think of an artist who's brought more joy to more people, across more generations — and in more ways — than Steve Martin. In the 1970s, he won the hearts of young children for his playful appearances with The Muppets while simultaneously charming legions of older fans with his subversive standup routines. Later, as an actor, he wrote and starred in some of the most memorable comedies (and a few dramas) of all time, while writing books, plays and even a Broadway musical.

Wilco has released a new song against ignorance and violence in the wake of last weekend's unrest in Charlottesville, VA. The track, called "All Lives, You Say?" is a short country shuffle that takes aim at the slogan "All Lives Matter," designed as a counter-protest to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Few singers can command an audience's attention quite like Albin Lee Meldau. When I first saw him perform, at a church in Austin, Texas during South By Southwest last March, it felt like the entire audience was on the edge of its seat, hanging on every twisted word. His voice is breathtaking, soulful, thunderous and impossible to ignore.

Chance The Rapper knew he wanted to try a different approach for his Tiny Desk performance, so he decided to do something he said he hadn't done in a long time. He wrote a poem. More specifically, he wrote a poem in the short time it took him to ride from his hotel in Washington, D.C. to the NPR Music offices. Calling it "The Other Side," Chance debuted it in the middle of his remarkable set, reading from his notes written out in black marker on sheets of typing paper.

Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle has always been more comfortable with machines than people. It's a dynamic he's well-documented, and even romanticized, in his work, with tales of misfit characters and their troubled relationships with everything from robots to appliances. Perhaps it's because mechanical friendships don't require much of an emotional investment — they're not built on a lot of open and earnest discussions.

The music of Perfume Genius can be intense, shuddering with a breathtaking fragility — but also shimmying with self-assured defiance. The songs, much like Hadreas himself, are strong, but not hard. As he worked his way through two new tracks ("Valley," "Slip Away") and one older ("Normal Song"), there were moments that were both beautiful and unnerving, in no small part because the songs are so deeply personal.

The War On Drugs will release A Deeper Understanding, its fourth full-length, late this summer, coming three years after the band's previous album, Lost In The Dream.

You'll need a few viewings to make any sense out of the new Father John Misty video for "Total Entertainment Forever." The song is, at least in part, an indictment against popular culture, the blind adoration of pop stars and the rampant obsession with virtual reality.

Ty Segall's new head-spinning video for the song "Break A Guitar" opens with a very brief cameo by Fred Armisen, before bursting into an ever-growing swirl of Kaleidoscopic images.

Electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso is back with a much-anticipated followup to it's self-titled 2014 debut. The new album is called What Now and includes the jagged new single "Die Young."

On this week's +1 podcast, singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten talks about how and why she made the surprising decision to take an acting role on the Netflix series The OA.

The Shins are back with the group's first new album since 2012's Port Of Morrow. Heartworms is set to drop on March 10 on Aural Apothecary/Columbia Records. In making the announcement today, the band shared the joyfully infectious pop cut "Name For You" and a lyric video.

With simple beats and a breezy bass line, the quirky new pop cut from The Shins channels the band's vintage mix of wistful meditations and infectious melodies. "Dead Alive" is typically playful and tongue-in-cheek, but also slightly foreboding.

When Conor Oberst started releasing music more than 20 years ago, first as a solo artist and later as Bright Eyes, he was just a teenager from Nebraska. Everyone marveled at how a kid could write and record at such a breathlessly prolific pace, producing inspired, sonically adventurous songs with a wisdom and world view beyond his years. Now just in his mid-30s, he's already a veteran, with dozens of albums and EPs behind him.

Saskatchewan singer-songwriter Andy Shauf is the kind of guy you'd find laying low at a party, maybe tucked into the corner of a room with a drink in his hand, keeping to himself but taking everything in. He's soft-spoken and reserved, more comfortable delivering the news than being a part of it (though "comfortable" may be too strong a word).

The Detroit band Protomartyr makes loud, screeching rock that's more thoughtful than thrilling. It only takes a few seconds of the group's brightly lit Tiny Desk performance for things to get pretty deep: "False happiness is on the rise," enigmatic frontman Joe Casey deadpans. "See the victims piled high in a room without a roof."

Trevor Powers, the songwriter and frontman of Youth Lagoon, has never attempted to hide his navel-gazing anxieties. On his 2011 debut (The Year Of Hibernation) and its 2013 followup (Wondrous Bughouse), Powers documents a lifetime of existential crises with swirling questions about spirituality, mortality and his own mental state. Powers has also looked the part, appearing in photos and on stage wearing oversize pop-bottle glasses, with slumped shoulders and a mop of disheveled hair.

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