Many (if not most) of you are probably familiar with this one, but if anyone reading this isn't, buying this EP should be the next thing you do. Now. It's that good.
If EPs were eligible for consideration in the Audities poll, this would have been my favorite album of 2005. Even as a 6-track EP, it was better than all the other full-lengths I heard; had Mead simply added 4 tracks reciting the Mellonville Phone Book to get it to album length, it'd still be my favorite.
The backstory of this EP is somewhat interesting; these tracks were intended as a full-length Mead was recording in 2002. Label shenanigans intruded, and the project was shelved. Mead then released Indiana in 2004 after joining Nettwerk, and several of the shelved songs were reworked and included in that fine release (which incidentally includes a stunning cover of "Human Nature". Yes, that "Human Nature"). The ones left over saw the light of day in this EP released last spring, but believe me, these are no leftovers, just tracks about his time in New York City that didn't fit in with Indiana.
The six songs are split into 2 uptempo numbers, one midtempo track, and 3 slower ones. The uptempo numbers ("Hold On", "Make It Right") are pure pop at its best, with chrouses that will never escape your mind. They have kind of a good 80s pop sensibility to them, albeit (thankfully) without heavy synthesizers. The midtempo number, "Only a Dream", is another one with a refrain that just won't quit ("if you awake with a shake and shiver/from down in the depths of a mess you've seen/leave it behind, close your eyes/and remember, it's only a dream"), and the three slower ones (the title track, "Astronaut", and "How Much") have a real, understated beauty.
The best place I could find to sample it was Amazon. The snippets are short, but they get you right to the hooks (and you'll be hooked). Even better, this EP is available at (drum roll, please) eMusic right here. And if you sign up for the 50 free tracks, you'll have this incredible EP and 44 more to download (plus, you can grab that Copperdown or Caudill I discussed yesterday and even then still have about half of your freebies left).