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.

Life is like an endless forest lined with many paths, each leading to an entirely different experience. But what happens if you leave the path altogether?

Peter Gabriel's new video, for his song "The Veil," pays tribute to former CIA employee and whistleblower Edward Snowden. The video features footage from military training exercises, real-life combat images and surveillance tapes, mixed in among scenes from director Oliver Stone's new biopic Snowden. Snowden himself also makes a surprise appearance in Gabriel's video.

Beck's new video, for the song "Wow," is a surreal, western-themed dance party in which Beck busts out his sweetest moves on a busy street's median. The video also features cameos by Beck's children, Cosimo and Tuesday Hansen, who thrash and spin with other kids to the song's spare electro-pop beats.

The gang's finally back together! And by gang we mean hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton, who find themselves in the studio together for the first time in a month. With the summer break finally over, the two return with this week's essential mix, from both veteran artists and new discoveries.

Michel Gondry's latest video was a complete surprise to the band for whom he created it. Gondry made the short film for The White Stripes' song "City Lights" on his own and shared it with frontman Jack White over the weekend.

The '80s are alive and well in "Real Thing," a retro, synth-heavy new song and video from Lower Dens. Shot through a lens presumably slathered with Vaseline and captured on grainy VHS tape, the video features frontwoman Jana Hunter singing and playing guitar on a darkened stage, dimly lit by hazy red lights. "I'm married to a terrific guy," Hunter sings. "I'll never leave until I die. But I just love to get out and get it on."

Regina Spektor is back with another preview of her upcoming album, Remember Us To Life. Her latest song is a gorgeous, soaring ode to love and heartache called "Black And White."

After a ten-year break, Grandaddy is back. The Modesto, Calif. band has signed with Danger Mouse's 30th Century Records and released two new songs, "Way We Won't" and "Clear Your History." The group has also officially announced a new full-length album coming sometime next year. It's the first new music from Grandaddy since 2006's Just Like The Fambly Cat. From the sound of the new songs, the band has lost nothing in the years since.

The new video from Baton Rouge rapper Kevin Gates is a sultry slow-burner beautifully shot against an arid landscape, with Gates standing amid the ruins of a dusty, burned-out building. It's a stark setting for his musings on fame and identity, sex and the intricate dance of dating.

"Time For That" is from Gates' debut full-length, Islah. He released its video on his own website earlier today.

The Pretenders are back with the band's first new album in eight years, this time collaborating with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach as producer. The album is called Alone, and the first single is a jangly pop cut with arpeggiated synths and quirky guitar riffs called "Holy Commotion!"

Cass McCombs' new video for "Opposite House," featuring Angel Olsen, is as strange and uncertain as the song itself. "The ceiling is on the floor / Floor in the refrigerator," McCombs sings as a man and woman blow high, arcing streams of tea at one another. "What of the door? / It's there no more." The imagery is surreal and vaguely suggestive; the tea streams flit and flow together, evoking sperm swimming toward an egg.

Dan Deacon's latest is the heart-pounding, life-affirming "Change Your Life (You Can Do It)." The video features a staple of all Deacon live shows: fans dancing with joyful abandon. The footage was filmed during Deacon's Gliss Riffer tour last year.

Sia is back with another powerful video starring the young and incredibly talented dancer Maddie Ziegler. This time, it's for a dance-pop anthem called "The Greatest." (Kendrick Lamar is featured in the official single version of the song.)

When we settled into the studio for this week's All Songs Considered, a clear theme quickly emerged: We had a whole lot of music by artists we already adore! This includes a rare acoustic demo by R.E.M., a glorious new electro-pop cut from Sylvan Esso, a heartbreaking tribute song from Sharon Van Etten and more.

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.

The latest single from Kishi Bashi is a synth-heavy, pulsing pop song full of both drive and heartache. "Can't Let Go, Juno," like many of the songs on Kishi Bashi's upcoming album Sonderlust, documents a difficult period the violinist and looper went through — both with his music and in his personal life. "Every time my phone lights up," Kishi Bashi sings, "My heart keeps skipping enough to give up / You know the better days still remain / Cannot be insane forever."

Back in March, both President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama spoke at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. Now, inspired by the trip, the Obama administration is collaborating with SXSW to host a miniature version of the festival at the White House.

"Timeless" first appeared as an icy, synth-powered soul ballad on James Blake's The Colour In Anything, released back in May. In its new incarnation, featuring rapper Vince Staples, the song is moodier, more propulsive and bristling with tension.

Jack White has shared another cut from his upcoming collection of acoustic recordings. The track is a version of The Raconteurs' "Carolina Drama," from the band's 2008 album Consolers Of The Lonely.

The original version of "Carolina Drama" is an electrified blues slow-burner. Here, the song sounds more like an old-time murder ballad, with banjo, fiddle and lap slide guitar.

In the sun-dappled world of Los Angeles duo Deap Vally, everyone is free to be anyone or anything they want — even if that's a neon-pink yeti strutting on the beach with a surfboard. "I'm gonna do it 'cause I wanna," the band sings over and over in a new video for "Gonnawanna"; meanwhile, the defiant creature trolls the beach, ignoring a gaggle of sunbathers who snicker and gawk.

The new video and song from the Brooklyn noise duo Sleigh Bells throb with rage and fiery defiance. Words flash on screen over Derek Miller's jagged guitars as the video opens: "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to build a fire."

Wilco's latest song is the Beatles-inspired "Someone To Lose," both a woozy acoustic strummer and a fiery rock song with a playful melody. Partly a reflection on past mistakes in romance and relationships, "Someone To Lose" perfectly captures the almost comical cluelessness we sometimes experience as we fumble our way through life and love. "Wouldn't you know it," sings frontman Jeff Tweedy. "I keep rollin' considerin' no one... ...I'm so confused, I can't lose."

Bon Iver's latest song, "33 'God,'" from the upcoming album 22, A Million, starts as a dewy piano ballad before erupting into a disjointed, drum-and-bass-heavy strutter.

The latest song from Angel Olsen is both epic and reflective, a melancholy meditation on heartache and coming to terms with lost love. "'No' is forever," she sings, as the video shows her wandering through her lonely days against the Los Angeles landscape. "Show me the future. Tell me you'll be there."

The remarkable new video from DJ Shadow and Run The Jewels, for the song "Nobody Speak," opens at what could easily be the United Nations, where a large group of diplomats has gathered to ostensibly sort out the world's problems. But tensions are high as two men face off, verbally assaulting one another in the voices of El-P and Killer Mike. "I'ma send you to the yard," one says.

It's been 17 years since the Urbana, Ill., emo group American Football released its self-titled debut album. In the years since, fans have elevated the group and its sole release to legendary status, anxiously awaiting any kind of follow-up. Today, the members of American Football announced that the wait is over: They've got a new record coming Oct. 21 (it's also self-titled) and a beautifully wistful new song called "Ive Been So Lost For So Long."

Sharon Van Etten has released a new song she wrote in memory of the victims of the June shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub. "Not Myself" is a gorgeous, haunting elegy, with Van Etten's voice layered over simple piano and a droning synth. "It's too much to take," she sings. "It's too much at stake. I want you to be yourself around me."

The fabulously flamboyant duo PWR BTTM takes a melancholy turn on its latest single. The sweetly sentimental sounding "New Hampshire" ponders the end of everything, from a love affair to the birds in the sky and the burning sun. But it shrugs it all off as an inevitable evolution of any life. "Don't be sad," sings guitarist Ben Hopkins. "I've done my share of living."

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