How do you write an epilogue for a life like David Bowie’s? The rock god’s final album, “Blackstar,” and his death two days later in early 2016 helped set the tone for the worst year ever. One year later, in what would have been his 70th birthday, Bowie’s final recordings are out in the form of the “No Plan” EP. It’s a brief affair, just four songs long with the opening track, “Lazarus,” already being available on “Blackstar.” The other three songs were previously released as a part of the “Lazarus” cast recording. Here we get them in their full Bowie glory, serving as a final farewell and palate cleanser. “No Plan” and “Killing a Little Time” follow in the footprints of “Lazarus,” reflective, sad and impossible to view from through any other lense than knowing that they were written by a man whose death was eminent. But the final track, “When I Met You,” strikes a slightly more upbeat tone, despite the still bleak lyrics. The song lifts things up just enough to give a bit of hope for a Bowie-less future. It’s sad, but it’s a grief you know you can recover from.
If you did a genealogy of Des Moines music, the members of Tires would make appearances all across it. The group is the brainchild of guitarist Phil Young, who is probably tied with multi-instrumentalist Jordan Mayland as Tires’ most prolific member. Mayland has several bands of which he’s the driving force, but it’s with Tires that Young gets a chance to shine.
The band’s full-length debut, “LP1,” lets Young pull off some impressive composition work, which stands out on the vocals-free album. The tracks range from loose and psychedelic polished and synth-heavy, with every choice feeling deliberate, but not too constrained.
Five years after it began as a solo bedroom project for Young, Tires has evolved into an impressive live band that makes every show an event. It was a long wait for “LP1,” but it shows that Tires can recreate its live show magic in the studio. ♦