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.

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.

Diane Coffee gives the kind of live performances you talk about for weeks after seeing. It's not that the band tears up the stage. There's no elaborate light show or other orchestrated theatrics. The main attraction — and the reason you'll want to watch and hear more — is Diane Coffee's fantastically flamboyant lead singer, Shaun Fleming.

Most of the bands that play the Tiny Desk strip down their sound to accommodate the limited space and unconventional acoustics of an office. But Son Lux chose to do the exact opposite. Normally a trio of guitar, drums and keys based out of New York, the band blew up its sound for this performance, adding off-duty, civilian horn players from the United States Marine Band.

After a week of 16-hour days and little-to-no sleep, the All Songs Considered gang is back from Austin with a slew of musical discoveries from the 2015 South by Southwest music festival.

Every Thursday this year we're celebrating All Songs Considered's 15th birthday with personal memories and highlights from the show's decade and a half online and on the air. If you have a personal memory about the show you'd like to share, drop us an email: allsongs@npr.org.

Sturgill Simpson doesn't fit today's common image of a country singer. When he arrived for his Tiny Desk Concert, the 36-year-old Kentucky native sauntered in sleepy-eyed, wearing jeans, a pair of old canvas tennis shoes, no socks and a well-worn button-down blue shirt, one of only two identical shirts he said he had in rotation while on tour. (He appeared a few nights later on Letterman wearing either the same garment or its twin.)

Sylvan Esso, live in concert. June 2014
still from video

"It's the dreamiest of scenes," Sylvan Esso singer Amelia Meath sighed as she looked out over the sold-out crowd at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club. Wearing six-inch platform tennis shoes and an all-black jumpsuit, Meath gyrated and pumped her fists, urging the crowd on. Meanwhile, the other half of Sylvan Esso, Nick Sanborn, tweaked the knobs on a small control panel plugged into a laptop.

Everyone knows there are five immutable truths in life. No. 1 is "Nothing's ever easy." No. 2 is "Nobody does the right thing." No. 3 is, well, you get the idea.

The Portland, Ore., band Ages and Ages will likely make you rethink these immutable truths — particularly the whole idea about doing the right thing in life. Pay close attention to the second song the group performs in this uplifting Tiny Desk Concert, and you'll see what I mean.

The music of Canada's Timber Timbre is often strange and unsettling. The band, led by Taylor Kirk — a crooner with a deceptively sweet voice — makes spare, evenly paced songs that sound like late-night echoes from a swampy woods.

Jack White has announced plans to release a version of his upcoming Lazaretto album on vinyl, with a whole bunch of special features that'll make you rethink the possibilities of the enduring format.

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.

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