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.

In a posthumous new video for Leonard Cohen's "Leaving The Table," an animated paper cutout of the late singer dances and flies over a cityscape of Montreal, free as a bird, untethered from the mortal world.

Björk's latest song, like much of the Icelandic singer's work, is strangely seductive. "The Gate" heaves and sighs with spare arrangements of strings and woodwinds before expanding magnificently in a bloom of warped electronics that sound a lot like the work of dubstep artist Burial.

"I care for you" Björk trills, over and over. "Split into many parts / Splattered light beams into prisms that will reunite if you care for me."

Half-Light, the debut solo release from former Vampire Weekend producer and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, is one of the year's most arresting albums. Its breathtaking choral and string arrangements, idiosyncratic beats and intricate wordplay make it practically impossible to hear without giving it your undivided attention.

Few traumas in life feel as suffocating or isolating — or are as relatable — as enduring a broken heart. The shallow breaths and loneliness can be overwhelming. For Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan, it's not unlike a solo journey through the deepest, darkest reaches of space, or walking alone in an empty city.

Okovi, the latest full-length from Zola Jesus, is a monstrously tortured album, built with densely layered grief and pain. Nika Roza Danilova, who's been writing and recording as Zola Jesus since releasing her debut in 2009, bares her most vulnerable thoughts and feelings as she sings about serial killers, suicide, crushing depression and fear. At times, even Danilova admits the songs are hard to hear.

Singer Dave Matthews, who formed his band in Charlottesville, Va. in 1991, will host a benefit concert for the city following last month's violent protests there. Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, Pharrell, Chris Stapleton, The Roots and Brittany Howard of The Alabama Shakes are slated to perform, along with other not-yet-named special guests.

After three years of trickling out singles, Beck has finally announced Colors, a new full-length due out this fall. His latest track, "Dear Life," channels Beach Boys harmonies and the barrel-house piano of classic Beatles songs like "Martha My Dear" or "Lady Madonna."

Grizzly Bear's new album, Painted Ruins, isn't overtly political — it isn't built on any easily identifiable observations of a troubled world. Still, at times it seems to speak directly to events that have unfolded in recent weeks, from the saddening violence in Charlottesville, Va. to political tensions with Russia and North Korea, thriving as it does on examinations of paranoia and fear of the unknown, of loneliness and isolation.

It's been a little over a month since Bob Boilen and I have sat together and shared some essential tunes, but we're back with some keepers, including a new, swoon-worthy song from singer Julien Baker and a beautifully infectious track from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

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