here they are:
"Down In the Valley" by The Head and The Heart: Although The Head and The Heart's previous hit, "Lost In My Mind" has been one of the hugest successes so far on adult alt radio of 2011, I had always thought that they would be relegated to "one hit wonder" status. It took about 9 months for The Head and The Heart to prove me wrong about their "one-hit-wonder" status, but it's been worth it! "Down In the Valley" is an amazing song, with vocals and acoustic guitar similar to Iron & Wine's Sam Beam, and a piano sound similar to The Avett Brothers. There's something charming about the folksy-ness and quaint sound of The Head and The Heart's material, and "Down In the Valley" seems to emphasize these qualities. The change in rhythm between the verses and chorus is worth noting about this song, as few songs I know in indie/contemporary alt music tend to have this (Mumford and Sons' "Roll Away Your Stone" and The Avett Brothers' "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise" are exceptions). Who knows, if they're lucky enough, perhaps The Head and The Heart will perform at the 2012 Grammys, just like Mumford and The Avetts did in 2011. They sure seem to be headed (no pun intended) in that direction!
"Without A Map" by Sam Roberts: Perhaps this song isn't as rollicking or energetic as Sam's song from earlier this year, "The Last Crusade", but "Without A Map" has an equally good (if not better) flavor to it! Unlike the electric guitar dominated sound of "The Last Crusade", "Without A Map" seems to rely more on acoustic guitar (with a "clean" distorted electric during the solo). The best part, for me, about "Without A Map" is its bouncy rhythm and the singalong vibe of its lyrical scheme. Think The Beatles' "Good Day Sunshine" if you want a good idea of how the rhythm sounds. "Without A Map" itself isn't as sunny as "Good Day Sunshine", but it's still a pleasant, benign song to listen to.