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.

Last week, after I played a monstrously good guitar rock cut by Major Stars, Bob Boilen rolled his eyes while foolishly claiming the guitar solo was dead. So we did an entirely scientific poll (it wasn't scientific) on Twitter to see what listeners thought. As I expected, the vast majority — nearly 70 percent — said, "No, Bob." The guitar solo is not dead.

Dirty Projectors guitarist and singer Amber Coffman's long-anticipated solo album is finally about to see the light of day. It's called City Of No Reply, and the first single from it is a gorgeous, soulful — if slightly bent — ballad called "All To Myself." A video for the song shows Coffman strolling along the seaside, looking somewhat forlorn, while singing to herself. Later she's buried up to her neck in sand. "I've got to sing it out," Coffman sings. "Sing it all to myself, there's no one to run to.

Grimes surprised fans today with seven new videos, including four songs from her most recent album, Art Angels, and three tracks from her friend and collaborator HANA's self-titled EP. In a series of Tweets, Grimes says she, HANA and Grimes' brother Mac Boucher shot the videos guerrilla-style over a two-week period while traveling through Europe. "There was no crew, makeup, cameras, lights," Grimes says.

The latest video from Radiohead is a field recording of Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke performing "The Numbers," from the band's latest album A Moon Shaped Pool. It's remarkable what they can do with two guitars and a drum machine; the duo basically strip away the song's original studio effects, percussion and piano.

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?

Love is elusive and innocence lost in a new video from The Dandy Warhols, for the band's idiosyncratic pop song "Catcher In The Rye." Like the song's namesake novel, the video opens on a sullen Holden Caulfield character, complete with a red hunting cap and a suitcase in hand, smoking and strolling aimlessly down the sidewalk. A young woman on the other side of the street catches his eye and, after they exchange a few glances, he takes off running with the young woman in pursuit.

Kate Bush has toured only once in the last 35 years. Fortunately, that string of live performances, at the Hammersmith Apollo in London in 2014, was recorded and will soon be available for everyone to hear. Concord Records will release Before The Dawn, a three-disc set of the recordings, on Dec. 2. Bush produced the set herself, with no additional recording or overdubs.

Paul Simon is ageless and animated in his first-ever performance at Austin City Limits. His hour-long, career-spanning set includes this playfully infectious version of the song "Wristband," from Simon's most recent album, Stranger To Stranger. It's vintage storytelling from Simon as he describes a musician who's inadvertently locked out of the club where he's supposed to be performing. It's a maddening comedy of errors that ultimately speaks to much larger issues like abuse of power, race relations and the privileged class.

Swedish singer, organist and all-around bad-ass Anna von Hausswolff has released a monumental new video for her song "Come Wander With Me/Deliverance." Breathlessly beautiful and brooding, the film unfolds in the deep, dark woods where Hausswolff walks stone-faced among the trees, drinking in the majesty of nature and its indifference to the human experience.

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.

While Bob was gallivanting about Nashville last week for AmericanaFest, I was hiding under a pile of covers fighting a case of Hand-Foot-And-Mouth disease (it's as Medieval as it sounds). But show business never sleeps, which means Bob made it back home, I recovered and we're back in the studio this week to geek out over our favorite new music.

A new David Bowie box set released late last week includes a complete (and remastered) version of his long-lost album, The Gouster. Bowie originally recorded the album in 1974, but eventually shelved the project. Reworked versions of "Somebody Up There Likes Me" and "Can You Hear Me" wound up on 1975's Young Americans. Other tracks, like "It's Gonna Be Me" and "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)," trickled out in various forms in the years that followed. But this is the first time Gouster's full track list is available to hear as it was originally intended.

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.