Julia Maehner

Civilian – Wye Oak

9 April 2018

Let me tell you why this song belongs to one of the few perfect songs out there. It has to do with three components: Melody, emotion and arrangement. 

The first one is simple: The melody of the song, so wonderfully melancholic, yet so simple. Singer Jenn Wasner basically just sings up and down the scale, of course sometimes skipping a halftone or so. It brings you back to childhood memories,…

Wide Awake – Parquet Courts

3 April 2018

Here in Germany, the temperature finally has moved above freezing. Sun’s out, weather is starting to be pretty great, finally we’ll be hiking the mountains again…

This makes me feel quite motivated to do things, so I’m celebrating my spring motivation with “Wide Awake” by the extraordinary Parquet Courts. It’s a simple song, but IT’S STILL SO GOOD…

Knots – Lisa Hannigan

26 March 2018

A couple of weeks ago, I completed the “30 Day Song Challenge”. Basically you’re given instructions to pick a song for the span of 30 days. Some – “a song about drugs and alcohol,” or “a song that’s a cover by another artist” – were easy. Some, like “a song by an artist with a voice that you love,” were harder…

Living With Your Ailments – Kiran Leonard

20 March 2018

Kiran Leonard is only 22, but his music has a depth and a whimsy to it only rivaled by his unconventional structure. Also, in spite of his age he’s released A LOT of music, impressive for someone so young…

Keep Yourself Warm – Frightened Rabbit

13 March 2018

Some of you may recognize this song from the TV show Chuck, which arguably has one of the best soundtracks ever. Some of you may be just like me: Hopelessly devoted to this Scottish band called Frightened Rabbit…

Dusty Trails – Lucius

6 March 2018

Pretty soon after moving to New York, I started working for the amazing music company Girlie Action. My fellow employees and my employers soon became a second family to me (we actually had the habit of calling our bosses “the parents”) and some of my clients became dear friends. Even though I never had the pleasure of working with Lucius directly, the band was a longstanding client of Girlie Action and pretty much some of our poster boys and girls. 

Interview With Van Tastik by Julia Maehner – Music to Conquer Mountains

28 February 2018

Talking to musicians, even only via email, is such a treat, especially when they can offer pleasant things such as humor and real insight. Van Tastik, an American expat living in Europe, offered just that in our brief conversation on the internet. I’ve selected his song “Drag Me to Hell” for the Music to Conquer Mountains playlist (link to song here please). Because the song is just so damn interesting, Spotify even selected him for its Delta Blues Playlist. I wanted to talk to Van Tastik about all that – his songwriting, being an expat and the power of streaming. Check it out!

Drag Me to Hell – Van Tastik

27 February 2018

What makes a song good? Andrew, our fearless leader, and I talked about that recently in our little video chat.  He also asked me, what a song submission needs for me to include it in my playlist. I told him: It’s a matter of songwriting, production and mood. You’re more likely to be receptive to a certain kind of song, if you’re more open to it because of the way you feel, so that’s a pretty flimsy variable…

Elephants On Tape – Traffic Signs

20 February 2018

’m convinced that East German city Leipzig is a better, more relaxed East London. I know, that is being very specific. But hear me out. 

Moonlight Baby – The Dig

13 February 2018

Similar to the new Editors-song  this new tune by The Dig has really captured me. Every time “Moonlight Baby” comes on, I can’t help but skip along. It really makes me happy, even though the lyrics are so sad. Accompanied by a wonderful combination of rhythmic acoustic guitar, a threatening, dark guitar lick and vivacious synthesizers, the song grooves as singer David Baldwin says farewell to his one true love. 

Revelations of a Stamp Monkey – Shilpa Ray

6 February 2018

Shilpa Ray has been one of my favorite artists since I’ve discovered her music a couple of years back. I used to curate songs for fellow music service A Song A Day, and send out five songs a week for about three years. During this time I’ve probably listened to the more new and undiscovered artists than I ever have an ever will. Anyhow – Shilpa Ray had me hooked from the start. 

We Need Another Shovel – Billy Momo

30 January 2018

I’ve always had a sweet spot for Tom Waits. When working as a video editor for a local newspaper back in 2012, I did a piece on a theatre company performing Wait’s Black Rider. The director of the show told me “You always have to play a Tom Waits song like a glass of beer that’s toppling over.” That quote stuck to me, isn’t it accurate?

Magazine – Editors

23 January 2018

I’ve always been more of a fan of Tom Smith’s voice than his band Editors. Come on, he sounds gorgeous. And the Editors, sure, they’re good, but I never really connected. Their new single, “Magazine”, changed that.

Rorschach – Typhoon

16 January 2018

In my opinion, it’s pretty gutsy to release a record this early in the year. When you release your record in the beginning of the year, you have to be really sure it’s good. Otherwise, people are bound to forget about it. Typhoon have released their fourth full-length record Offerings this past week on January 12th. So, Typhoon they’ve got balls. 

Skim – TORRES

9 January 2018

TORRES is the stage name of US-American singer and songwriter Mackenzie Scott. And boy, like a bull charges at red cloth, Scott surely charges at gender stereotypes. She – amongst others like St. Vincent – belong to the female artists in 2017, who’ve released albums challenging rock stereotypes. Lyrically, musically, visually. Vulture published an excellent article on the matter, I highly recommend it. 

3WW – alt-J

2 January 2018

I’m starting the new year with one of my favorite songs from the old one. I’ve loved alt-J since their debut An Awesome Wave had come out, and my love for them hasn’t wavered since. Naturally, when they released their first single off their third record earlier this year, it was pretty much all I listened to for three straight days. 

An Interview With Nigel Powell By Julia Maehner

18 December 2017

Nigel Powell is a pretty sincere man. Although I only got to interview him via email, his answers ring with a clarity and honesty that’s pretty damn impressive. His portfolio is pretty impressive, also. He’s been a part of Frank Turner’s touring band The Sleeping Souls for ever now and working on several projects on when he’s not on the road. The Sad Song Co. is the one project where he’s most himself and doesn’t depend on the vision of others. Powell’s new record Worth is due February 9, 2018. It’s a collection of songs that flow seamlessly into one another, in spite of the impressive eclectic songwriting style he displays. While a solemn prog rock vibe is the thread holding them together, Powell plays with whimsical pop arrangements, minimal synthesizer rhythms and sweeping guitar solos to craft his intricate music. 

Q: You use a lot of spiritual imagery in your lyrics. How does religion influence your songwriting?

What You Make Of It – The Sad Song Co.

18 December 2017

There is so much music out there, and I listen to a lot of it. Still, I’m really grateful for the submissions that come into my inbox via the Music to Conquer Mountains landing page. One of them was a submission by Nigel Powell, mastermind of the project The Sad Song Co. He submitted his new single, “What You Make Of It”, a sweeping progressive rock “Anthem” that reminded me of Genesis’ Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and prog metal masters Tool and Opeth. 

Lower Worlds – Rainer Maria

12 December 2017

German poet Rainer Maria Rilke belongs to the great minds of European literature and lyricism. He grew up an only child, his older sister having died only a week after his mother gave birth to her. She tried to cope with that pain by dressing young René (he would change his name later) as a girl. His history, and the gender ambiguity of the name, was one of the reasons the band Rainer Maria was inspired by. 

Turncoat – Pickwick

5 December 2017

Sometimes all you need is a proper groove, man. A groove, which “Turncoat” by the Seattle based band Pickwick will offer you. The band has been around for almost ten years and after releasing a series of EPs and singles, they finally dropped their debut record Can’t Talk Medicine in 2013.

Heavenward – Wolf Alice

28 November 2017

In recent years Wolf Alice has occasionally popped up on my radar. I thoroughly enjoyed them in 2014, when I discovered their song “She” off of their EP Blush. I bopped my head to “Fluffy,” one of the lead singles off their debut Your Love is Cool. But I didn’t really love them until Visions of a Life, their sophomore record. 

Come & Get It – Year of October

21 November 2017

Fans of Heartless Bastards, Delta Spirit or The Detroit Cobras listen up! This week I proudly present the first submission to my playlist. The band Year of October submitted the track this week via the from on Music to Conquer Mountains with the note “The song is based on a short story by Phlecia Sullivan and involves a girl getting over an abusive relationship.” …

Talk Tonight – Oasis

13 November 2017

“Talk Tonight” of Oasis’ B-sides-album The Masterplan (1998) is my favorite track by far. And Oasis is one of my favorite bands, so to me it’s basically one of the best songs ever written. 

Pilot – The Notwist

13 November 2017

One of my favorite albums of all time is Neon Golden (2002) by The Notwist. They’re a band from a small town in Bavaria, not far from where I grew up. The Notwist aren’t a household name internationally by far. But if you’re a German and you’ve just looked at an actual record store (not one of those gigantic electronic stores like Best Buy or such) in your teens, you know of them. You probably know this very album. 

Work – 1, 2, 3

13 November 2017

Back in 2011, I worked as an intern for Rolling Stone Germany one of my favorite tasks was finding a band to watch. Some time in summer or fall, I don’t remember which, I stumbled across this song. The band’s name 1,2,3 is an absolute nightmare to google so it was kind of hard to find out more about them…

Majesty – Madrugada

13 November 2017

Madrugada’s “Majesty” has been a constant companion in my life. First of all, the accompanying album Grit (2002) is a rock masterpiece. It sways between the melancholy beauty of songs like “Majesty,” and also storms on to thrash about with tracks like album-opener “Blood Shot Adult Commitment”. It’s a behemoth of an album, straying from blues and Krautrock over to alternative and industrial rock.

Northern Territory – Alamo Race Track

9 November 2017

One, two, three, four. Going all the way. “Northern Territory” drives you, the steady beat formed by drums, bass and guitars stomp like a steam engine. Onwards, onwards!