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.

The cast recording of Lazarus, the musical David Bowie wrote with playwright Enda Walsh, is out this week, and with it arrives three previously unreleased Bowie songs recorded during his Blackstar sessions. "Killing A Little Time" is the third track to leak from the album, and it's an ominous, polyrhythmic rock scorcher that would have fit well on the icon's final album. It's one of the last songs he recorded before his death from liver cancer in January.

The new album from the experimental rock band Negativland comes with a plastic bag containing 2 grams of Don Joyce's cremated remains. Joyce, a member of the group, died of heart failure in 2015. According to an official announcement on Boing Boing, the band's forthcoming album, The Chopping Channel, will ship with little bags of Joyce's ashes for as long as "supplies last."

It's not easy to make sense of the latest song from Foxygen. One minute, "America" is lurching orchestral pop, complete with dramatic strings and woodwinds. The next, it's a melancholy piano piece, followed by a sudden shift to oddball jazz punctuated by bursts of noise and orchestrated chaos. It's an epic, head-spinning collision of sounds worthy of multiple listens. "If you're already there, then you're already dead," the Los Angeles duo sings. "If you're living in America."

Days after playing the Desert Trip festival in Indio, Calif., Roger Waters is announcing a new, multi-state tour. It's his first since the 2010-2013 tour of The Wall and starts in May of next year, with stops in more than 30 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Waters has named it the "Us And Them" tour after the song he wrote for Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side Of The Moon. He told NPR Music its themes about the haves and have-nots are more relevant and topical than ever.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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 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!"

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.

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.

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.

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."

Florence and the Machine dropped an EP today with three new songs. The tracks, "Too Much Is Never Enough," "I Will Be" and a cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," were recorded for the Final Fantasy XV video game.