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Bob's Rainbows: May 3, 2014

Future Islands at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC.
Photo by Zac Visco for NPR
Future Islands at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC.

Every week I hear something amazing, see something inspiring and want to pass it on. These events are sometimes fleeting, sometimes iconic, but they stop me in my tracks. Bob's Rainbows is the place where I'll highlight the very best of my weekly music intake. [Editor's note: Why rainbows? They're the only naturally occurring phenomenon that can make Bob take his headphones off.]

You might see some of it pop up on the All Songs Considered Twitter account (@allsongs), my Instagram feed or our Facebook page in real time, but this will be a permanent home for the amazing rainbows in my life.


Future Islands at 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., 5/1/14

A heart of gold and knees of steel is the best way to describe Sam Herring, the deeply dramatic lead performer of Future Islands. This night was a homecoming of sorts for this synthy crooning pop band: Its home base, Baltimore, is just a short car ride from Washington D.C.'s 9:30 Club and this was the last date of a hugely successful U.S. tour — 50 dates in just about as many days — during which time Herring's dance moves became the toast of the Internet and the band ran away with SXSW. For those locals who have watched Future Islands' long hard climb in over the last decade or so, it has been surprising to see such sweet success. It was loving embrace this crowd gave the band, enjoying the new songs from Singles and old songs equally. We recorded this entire concert for you. Have a look.


"Do I Have The Time" by Jessica Lea Mayfield

OK, I'm officially obsessed with this song. I didn't go more than five waking hours all week without cranking this song on some device: car, phone, stereo, more. For starters, the way this song kicks off sounds close to one of my favorite songs on planet Earth, "Third Uncle" by Brian Eno. But where "Third Uncle" is a surrealist lyrical painting, Jessica Lea Mayfield's song has lyrics clear and bright. Jessica loves this man; it's a plea for honesty, as it should be.

"Our friend had a vision, his girlfriend did too. He's seeing other women and she's seeing women too. Now that's all fine for him and her, and her and her too, but everything I need in someone lives inside of you. So if you don't see what you need in me then let me know. Let me know so I can let this chair beneath me go"


Make My Head Sing... by Jessica Lea Mayfield

Jessica Lea Mayfield's got more than just a single great song. Her new albumis filled with dark, brash electric guitar that cuts nicely with her ethereal voice, plus a good rhythm section to boot. I work a few blocks from The Capitol, and at times thought of walking down the street to see if it might be possible to just declare this Jessica Lea Mayfield Week. I was tempted to list her concert at the Rock and Roll Hotel as my 'Show of the Week' too; surely it was the most surprising and if it weren't for Future Islands' Sam Herring, it would have been the most compelling.


"Young" by Air Review

Visually, the most stunning video I've seen this year. I didn't know this band before and if a music video is meant to be a vehicle to draw you into a bands music, this one did the trick — I fell in love with this song because of this retro-modern cut-up story. Dear Air Review: You're on my short list of bands to go see and learn more. Good song!


"Science Shows How Guitar Players' Brains Are Actually Different from Everybody Elses'" by Jordan Taylor Sloan (

This article highlights key findings from a 2012 study about the way guitarists playing together think and sync brains together. We often think of the way siblings sing in harmony as magic but this really is stunning to see the connection between musicians. "When people talk about a band's chemistry," Sloan writes, "this may well be what they're seeing."


A Girl, A Bed, Two Dogs, A Loop Pedal And Michael Jackson

What slays me is how effortless Kawehi covers Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel." The dogs may not be fazed or amazed, but I sure was.

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Bob Boilen
In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.
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