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This week on March 15th, Kvelertak brought their Norwegian blackened punk metal, with all its head banging and hair swinging goodness, overseas with the North American release of their self-titled album. Kvelertak have been nationally acclaimed, winning the Norwegian equivalent to the Grammys, while “Mjød”, one of their singles, is pumped over BBC’s airwaves and getting much deserved love and recognition throughout Europe.

Sixx AM, the side band of Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, is back with a new album due out this Spring. Sixx AM turned into a surprise hit for Nikki and his new band mates, largely thanks to the hit single “Life is Beautiful.” It’s been over three and a half years since the release of the band’s debut album and like its predecessor, the new album This is Gonna Hurt is a companion soundtrack to Sixx’s second book, the follow up to the very successful first edition of “The Heroin Diaries”.

Beady Eye (aka Oasis lite) is the brand new British rock group fronted by none other than former Oasis lead singer Liam Gallagher. Noel and Liam beat the crap out of each other one final time in Toronto in 2009 which has led to Oasis (minus Noel) carrying on the rock n’ roll dream while Noel is pursuing a solo career. The group’s debut record Different Gear, Still Speeding is due out at the end of February with the album’s first single “The Roller” just hitting the streets.

It’s quite unfortunate, but it’s taken the mainstream until 2010 to give any notoriety to The Black Keys. The Keys have been releasing records for years and slowly but surely have chipped away to the point where they’re now three time Grammy nominees and a platinum selling artist. From start to finish the album Brothers is an absolute blues rock-infused trip that will keep you coming back for more and more. The duo might not win any awards for originality, but they sure will for their stripped down and funky blues riffs.

For seven long years the world longed for a new album from Cake and their prayers were answered at the start of this year with the release of Showroom of Compassion. Believe it or not, the release of new album celebrates twenty years of Cake, although the band wasn’t active much during the seven year hiatus. Showroom of Compassion is classic Cake, but with a slightly different sound and more piano playing via Cake leader John McCrea.

Despite the dubious name choice, Antillectual deserve credit for being one of those European bands who manage to play American punk rock better than most American punk rockers (Millencollin reign as the undisputed kings). And despite the cookie-cutter political stances being thrown at you like bricks, Antillectual manages to bring a decent musical backdrop for their outspoken politics.

Annabel came forth with a new EP, Here We Are Tomorrow, at the end of 2010 and “The Forgetting of Names and Faces” is the standout track. The bright, ethereal pop sensibility of this Ohio quartet shines through for two minutes and fifty-two seconds like a shimmering blue ocean off an exotic coastline. And right now, in the middle of a chilling North American winter, this song plays like the answer to our collective prayers.

Vancouver’s Carpenter is bright and infectious while remaining committed and conscientious. Known for covering the struggle of local Canadian farmers, Carpenter focuses effort on a niche which few dare, or even bother, to invest. Their latest album, Sea to Sky, begins with the boisterous “Mean Things”. Dealing with the typical alt-rock subject of relationship troubles, Carpenter doesn’t delve into their agro-DIY ethics on this track, but they offer up a decent song regardless.