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New Music Friday: Vince Clarke, Danny Brown, Madness

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Danny Brown, Quaranta

More than a decade removed from his breakout album, XXX — its title a reference to the Detroit rapper’s pushing-30 age when he recorded it — Danny Brown continues to defy expectations as he makes his way through his fourth decade with Quaranta. For an MC who once leaned on inspired non-sequiturs, a hyper-animated delivery and peans to hedonism, Quaranta sees Brown in a strikingly introspective mood, tackling topics like addiction and gentrification with maturity and insight. But his distinctive humor and kaleidoscopic perspective remains as sharp as ever. —Andrew Barker

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Vince Clarke, Songs of Silence

After a four decade career as the mastermind behind synth pop greats Erasure and Yaz, Vince Clarke is finally releasing his first solo album. Intriguingly, the album is all instrumental, with the only instrument being the Eurorack, a modular synthesizer famous for its limitless sonic possibilities. Even more intriguingly, Clarke has built each song on one note. The feelings of chaos and melancholy are present throughout the 10 songs, and Clarke has accurately described the album as “having a sense of sadness.” However, tapping into this technology opens up another exciting chapter in Clarke’s already stellar oeuvre. —Amy Hughes

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Madness, Theatre of the Absurd Presents C’est La Vie

Given how well they’re known as a top-shelf live band, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Madness also still release studio albums, even if they do have a tendency to go a fair while between them. In this case, of course, they had the same excuse that all of us had – a little thing called a pandemic – but there’s something particularly notable about this endeavor, which is that it’s the first time the band has ever produced their own LP. Per the press release, the recording of the album was ruled by the mantra “Let Madness Be Madness,” and from what we've heard, it seems to have worked out well for them and us. —Will Harris

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Fishbone, Fishbone EP

The newness of this EP is a little uncertain, since the opening track, “All We Have is Now,” was released earlier this year as an inclusion on the latest Fat Wrecks compilation album. In addition, the EP was listened on the Fat Wrecks website as having a release date of May 26, whereas Amazon had it listed as a September 29 release date, except that as of yesterday it was still listed as a pre-order. But these are all minor quibbles that we should now proceed to ignore completely in favor of the far more important news that there is a self-titled Fishbone EP that you probably haven’t heard...and if you haven’t, then you absolutely should. —W.H.

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