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.

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.

It wasn't an easy road to the Tiny Desk for the four guys from Louisiana who make up Brass Bed. Their tour, for the band's debut album The Secret Will Keep You, was plagued from the start: Singer Christiaan Mader had the flu, there was a death in the family and multiple dates had to be canceled. Their van was broken into and their instruments stolen. So when they heard that a big snowstorm was headed for D.C. at the same time they were to play the Tiny Desk, it felt like yet another bad omen.

Sisters Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz aren't the youngest musicians ever to play the Tiny Desk, but they come pretty close. Their music — a restrained, homespun mix of folk and pop with undeniably sweet harmonies — certainly ranks among the loveliest we've heard.

Musicians have a long history of turning tragedy into art. From Neil Young's stirring indictment against the shooting of Kent State students in the 1970 song "Ohio," to the countless tributes and musical memorials to 9-11, artists often feel a need to make sense of the senseless and offer comfort through song.

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.

We've had bands from all over the world visit the Tiny Desk. Most recently, we published a set by Keaton Henson, who was in from London. Back in May, we had singer M.R. Shajarian from Iran.