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.

This week's puzzler comes courtesy Michael Lerner, drummer for the band The Antlers. Lerner is on the short list of current favorite drummers. His work is always melodic, never too busy or indulgent. But he also never settles for the straight up four on the floor. I found the fills he selected for this week's puzzler to be... challenging. But see what you think.

This week's drum fills (and intros) were hand-selected, using only the finest ingredients, by Sean Carey. The Bon Iver drummer, who writes and records as S. Carey, just released his second solo album, Range Of Light. I thought some of his picks for this week's puzzler were pretty challenging, but I managed to get three of the five right. See how you do!

People often stop me on the street and ask, "Dude, what's with Drum Fill Friday? How are you picking that stuff?" Most of the fills come to me in peyote-induced fever dreams. Otherwise, I mostly just pick songs that have moments in them - fills and intros - that make me want to air-drum. They aren't all legendary or particularly defining moments — just awesome moments. As with all the stuff we do on All Songs Considered, they're songs I love.

This week, we asked you to think about the end of your life. If you could pick it, what would you like the last song you ever hear to be? For me, it was easy. Pink Floyd's "Great Gig in the Sky," from Dark Side of the Moon would send me off into the unknown with its perfect mix of sorrow, anguish, majestic awe and celestial wonder.

This week's batch of drum fills comes from a mix of classic rock and pop, and more recent cuts. As always, I was drawn to them simply because I love the songs themselves and was captivated at some point by the percussion. Pro tip: If you don't recognize a fill, try matching the timbre of it — the power behind it, the sound of the recording, etc. — to one of the album covers pictured (or to the period the album was recorded in).

You know what's awesome? Drum fills. A killer bass line is pretty great, too. And guitar solos. And melodies and chord progressions. But a really great drum fill is often the one thing that makes a song truly take off. Think of Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" and try not to get that song's classic fill stuck in your head immediately.

Don't let the precious name fool you. Mr Little Jeans, a.k.a. Norwegian singer Monica Birkenes, makes propulsive, sometimes epic pop music with gnarled synth lines and alluring textures. In this brand new Mr Little Jeans video, for the moody song "Good Mistake," a trucker hopped up on meds finds himself traversing the haunted backroads of his past.

Few things make us cringe quite like hearing about the untimely death of a musical instrument. A table or an appliance may be swept away by a hurricane, or a set of golf clubs may be mangled by baggage handlers, but they don't hold quite the emotional pull of seeing a crushed guitar or piano. It feels like something living has died.

Every year Bob Boilen, NPR Music's Stephen Thompson and I prepare for South by Southwest by listening to songs from roughly 1,500 artists. And when you go through that many bands you start to see trends in the names. The two most commonly occurring words are always — always — "black" and "DJ." In addition to those two, this year we noticed that "white" appears an awful lot, too, as does the name John. Michael, Paul and Jesse are also pretty popular. Go figure.

When you listen to "North Street," a just-released song by the band Death, it's hard to believe it's more than 30 years old. The cut, with its urgent beat and relentlessly propulsive guitars, is part punk and part avant-garde rock. Death originally recorded the track in 1980, but it never saw the light of day — until now.

Tomorrow on All Songs Considered we'll post a conversation we taped recently with Beck, about his new album Morning Phase. (We'll also premiere a new song from that album called "Waking Light"). While prepping for the interview, I looked over Beck's body of work from the past 20 years, and realized I couldn't find a single song or project of his I disliked. Sure, there are plenty of recordings and songs I like more than others.

Reality is nine-tenths perception, even in our most intimate relationships. Is it love? Infatuation? Is it real and lasting? All we have are the choices we make. In the latest video from electro-beat guru Son Lux, a torrid relationship plays out between two lovers, as frontman Ryan Lott reflects on the possibilities of an "Alternate World."

When bassist and singer Lou Barlow first formed Sebadoh in 1986, he was an early-twentysomething who wrote sublime, brooding songs about youthful angst and heartache. Now in his late 40s, Barlow writes songs under the Sebadoh moniker that are no less introspective. But he's more agitated and inspired by the trappings of adulthood, from the pressures he feels to make money to life lessons he should have learned by now, to how best to care for his children.

Around this time last year, 21-year-old Elisa Lam went missing during a solo trip to Los Angeles. A month after her disappearance was reported, her body was found in a hotel's rooftop water tank. While it's unclear what happened, investigators ruled out foul play, leaving everyone to speculate wildly about her mental state and possible motivations.

While photographers click and shoot their way through live concerts, capturing the best moments in fractions of seconds, illustrator Michael Arthur prefers to preserve the highlights at what some might consider glacial speed, using pen and ink.

I began last year with some ambitious goals as far as music goes. I vowed to go to more live shows, to pay more attention to lyrics and to spend more time in general with the albums I hear. This was in addition to losing weight, writing a novel and quitting World Of Warcraft. (Ha ha, just kidding! Why would anyone quit World Of Warcraft?).

We need some help putting together next week's show. Thanksgiving is coming up, and for a lot of you, this means you'll be spending some close time with family. Maybe it's more time with family than you want. Or maybe you can't get enough of it. Either way, it's an opportunity to reflect on the people in our lives and how they've shaped who we are.

A while back (a long while back), Bob Boilen and I were sitting around the office, chatting like we do about music and life, and got to wondering: Is it possible to come up with a top ten list of albums that everyone can agree on?

Late this past month, the first-ever Mountain Oasis music festival popped up in Asheville, N.C. for three days and nights of glorious weirdness. Officially called the Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit, the event featured bands both big (Nine Inch Nails) and small (Adventure Club), thrilling audiences with thumping dance, mind-blowing electronic, fist-pounding rock and more.

The music of Perera Elsewhere sounds like it was picked up from outer space, like a strange, haunting frequency drifting through the ether from god-knows-where. So it makes sense that the Berlin-based DJ and ambient trip-hop artist brings an otherworldly vibe to life on the video for her song "Giddy."

Last week's merciless onslaught of negative reviews for the new Arcade Fire record, Reflektor, sparked a conversation here in the All Songs Considered office about the weight of a writer's words, and whether those words have any real effect on a band's level of success (success in this case being album sales, or otherwise building a fan base).

James Vincent McMorrow first popped on our radar back in 2010, when he released his breathtakingly beautiful debut Early In The Morning, a collection of acoustic folk notable, in part, for McMorrow's remarkable voice. But it turns out McMorrow never really wanted to be a folk singer. His latest album, Post-Tropical, is a sultry, slinky R&B album, with drum machines and soul-inspired harmonies. Now comes a dark, sometimes unnerving new video for the album's first single, "Cavalier."

The latest video from Odd Future co-founder Tyler, The Creator isn't at all what you might expect. The Los Angeles rapper and producer, known for his dark, dystopian hip-hop, takes on a breezy pop ballad for the short and vividly beautiful film. Tyler didn't write the song and isn't saying who did. But he was so moved by it he agreed to write and direct the video.

Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy is back with another covers project. This time its for music by The Kinks. Meloy began releasing Colin Meloy Sings cover EPs in 2005 to coincide with his various solo tours.