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.

What can I say? You caught me in a good mood and I'm feeling generous. This week's Drum Fill Friday is a lowly one out of five stars for difficulty. I'd give it zero stars, but there's one song that I admit not everyone on the planet has probably heard, though they should. I'll leave it to you to decide which one I'm thinking of. And as always, good luck, careful listeners.

This week's episode of All Songs Considered is a journey of sound. Bob has a new favorite noise app, so he and Robin Hilton go on a sonic expedition that includes a spring walk, a gaggle of purring kittens, and a rolling rain storm (thunder optional). As if kittens weren't enough, Bob and Robin also have six new songs to share, including a British band, a Scandinavian band that sounds British, and an American band that sounds Scandinavian.

This week's Drum Fill Friday comes courtesy of Shaun Fleming, drummer for Foxygen and frontman for the band Diane Coffee. Fleming has an unabashed love of late-'60s psychedelic rock and pop, and you can hear as much in the fills he picked here. But he also threw in a few surprises from the '70s and '80s. I'd give it three out of five stars for difficulty.

Most of the bands that play the Tiny Desk strip down their sound to accommodate the limited space and unconventional acoustics of an office. But Son Lux chose to do the exact opposite. Normally a trio of guitar, drums and keys based out of New York, the band blew up its sound for this performance, adding off-duty, civilian horn players from the United States Marine Band.

Bob Boilen is back after several weeks for this week's episode of All Songs Considered, and at least part of this week's show is Robin coming to terms with Bob's new beard.

Columbia House (actually, the company that has owned Columbia House since 2012) filed for bankruptcy this week, which will mean a great deal to those who were music lovers in the 1980s and '90s, and probably close to nothing to listeners under the age of 30. Columbia House was a mail-order music warehouse, which used cheap (or free) LPs, then 8-tracks, then cassettes and CDs to rope customers into its full-price subscription service.

This week, the All Songs team picks songs that sound like revolutions. Bob Boilen is out, so co-host Robin Hilton is joined by Katie Presley in D.C. and Timmhotep Aku in New York. The trio shares big, smashy music that lets Robin engage in his once-yearly purge of emotion.

Look, we all have work to do. But it's Friday, and this drum fill puzzler isn't going to quiz itself. So put down whatever you're doing, put on your headphones and see how many of these fills you can match to the right song. I'd give this week's Drum Fill Friday three out of five for difficulty.

Good luck, careful listeners, and as always, if you have a drummer or a fill you'd like to see featured in these weekly puzzlers, let us know in the comments section or via Twitter @allsongs, #drumfillfriday.

Lou Barlow has always been a restless - often anxious - old soul. In three decades of making music, first with Dinosaur Jr., later with Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, the guitarist and songwriter has tried to make sense of his place in the world with a prolific run of spare, emotionally raw, and plain-spoken songs.

Well, Drum Fill Friday is back after a two-month break, during which I changed an unimaginable number of diapers (on paternity leave) and spent many sleepless nights staring wide-eyed into the middle distance while holding a screaming baby. But in those rare quiet moments, when I was able to put on some tunes, I was busy taking notes with my brain pen whenever I heard a jammin' drum fill.

Eagles drummer, singer-songwriter and producer Don Henley is back with his first solo album in 15 years.

Protomartyr's latest song, its best yet, is a fierce and unforgettable shredder. "Why Does It Shake?" — from the Detroit band's upcoming album, The Agent Intellect -- rumbles and roars with a gritty chug as frontman Joe Casey stares down his own mortality. "Sharp mind, eternal youth / I'll be the first to never die / Nice thought / And I'm never going to lose it."

This week's Drum Fill Friday comes from Guest Quizmaster Hanna Brewer, drummer for the Texas party-rock group Purple. The group is known for its rowdy live shows and healthy sense of humor, and is currently on tour for its debut album, (409).

Brewer, who also sings for Purple, shared a range of her own influences for this week's puzzler, from hip-hop to reggae, rock and pop. I'd give it three drum sticks out of five for difficulty. As always, good luck, careful listeners!

While they're not splitting open a person's chest and massaging their heart back to life, musicians and the songs they make may actually be saving lives.

When Clap Your Hands Say Yeah released its self-titled debut record in 2005, it became one of the first albums to break big because of the Internet. The band recorded and released it on its own, without any label support, and shared it on the group's website, where fans picked it up and quickly spread the word.

On our show this week, bigger is better. We start with a pop anthem and feature a set of artists all leaning into or newly discovering their boldest, most attention-grabbing music yet. Some, as in the case of a frontman gone solo and a bilingual saxophone-heavy punk band, deliver precisely the momentous sounds we'd expect. Others used the pull of memory, a desperate four-month stretch of insomnia, or a single shared microphone and two minutes of trippy ambience to level up their sonic ambitions.

This week Bob Boilen and I and a handful of other people from NPR Music got to see Sufjan Stevens in concert. It was a life-changing performance — one we'll all remember for many years.

Mother's Day is back again (it's this coming Sunday) to remind you to do something nice for your mom. But maybe you don't need a commercial holiday to think about your mother and all she's done (or hasn't done) for you. Maybe all it takes is a song. If so, we want to know what it is. What song reminds you of your mother every time you hear it? Tell us in the form below. We'll talk more about it and make a playlist of some of the picks in this week's Plus One podcast.

Sharon Van Etten could sing the instruction manual for a dishwasher and make it sound like lyrical poetry. Over the course of four full-lengths, her voice has only evolved and grown both bolder and more nuanced. Van Etten plays every word like an instrument, bending one note into the next with a woozy purr that's sometimes sensual, sometimes heartbreaking but always arresting.

Tuva Lodmark and Nella Daltrey, the pair of 22-year-old Swedes who together make up the minimalist-rock duo Pale Honey, have been making music together since elementary school. Their latest music is quite spare – they turn it up every now and then with some great distortion, but usually it's simple, propulsive synth lines paired with strummed guitar and an understated beat. They remind me of The xx with a slightly elevated pulse.

Singer Jeen O'Brien has been around for a while, making music with a number of artists. She and Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene are in a band together called Cookie Duster. Don't ask me what a cookie duster is — I have no idea.

This week on All Songs Considered, we grapple with the alchemy of creation — the myriad ways a musician gets from blank page and empty studio to a full sound and lyrics that ring true. We were inspired in part by a show Bob saw recently by Magnetic Fields front man Stephin Merritt, where he performed 26 songs, each based on a letter of the alphabet. (Merritt, whose projects are often governed by external limitations, claims that his best-known project, 1999's monumental triple album 69 Love Songs, took him only a year to write.)

It's hard to get your head around the amount of work it must have taken to make the new video for Son Lux's "Change Is Everything." Conceived and produced by The Made Shop, the whole thing was painstakingly pieced together entirely with a foam white board, a whole bunch of map pins and old-school stop motion animation.

Last week's Drum Fill Friday was a tough one: I'd give it four out of five stars for difficulty. One thing that's nice about the tougher games is that they can turn you on to some great songs and bands you've never heard before. That said, I tamed this week's puzzler a bit — more like two out of five stars — so hopefully you'll be a little more familiar with the fills, while still feeling challenged. As always, good luck, careful listeners!

This past week we held a listening party in Denver, and one of the songs we played for the crowd was Stephin Merrit's "Book Of Love," from his album 69 Love Songs, by The Magnetic Fields. Our panelist, Amelia Mason, writer for WBUR's The ARTery, called it a perfect song, and many of us in the room agreed.

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