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Review: Bowie's surprising, masterful EP 'No Plan' (Grade: A)

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 6:21 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017 10:21 a.m. CST

David Bowie died 1 year ago Tuesday, after having liver cancer for his last 18 months. Sunday would have been his 70th birthday.

So, what better way to celebrate Bowie's birthday and life than by listening to new music from the rock icon?

You read that right, new music.

An EP of three previously unreleased songs from Bowie, along with the outstanding "Lazarus" track from 2016's outstanding "Blackstar," were released Sunday. The new tracks – recorded before Bowie's death for the musical "Lazarus" are believed to be his last recordings.

And just like "Blackstar, the EP "No Plan" shows that Bowie had reached yet another creative peak in his final months. Each of the three new tracks would have fit in well on last year's record. Two of them – the morosely beautiful title track and the thunderous, jazzy "Killing A Little Time" – would have been among the best on what was one of 2016's best records and one of Bowie's best.

The title track might refer to Bowie in an afterlife. "Here there's no music here; I'm lost in streams of sound; Here am I nowhere now? No plan." The accompanying video plays out on rows of TV screens in a store window and ends with a visions of Bowie and a rocket ship heading into space.

"No Plan" is a masterful footnote to the grand farewell that was "Blackstar."

Other new releases:

• Dropkick Murphys' fun, polished, anthemic Celtic punk rock rollick, "11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory (Grade: A-minus)

• "Echolocation," the grim guitar slog from Gone Is Gone, comprised of members from Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age, and At The Drive-In. (Grade: C-plus)

• The sleepy keyboard heavy EP "Carl Sagan" from Night Moves. Saved by the title track, which also had been released in 2016. (Grade: C-plus)

• You Me At Six's unspectacular pop punk offering, "Night People." (Grade: C)

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