Southern California's Saosin (rhymes with Laotian) is the latest great emo hope. The band's metal-plated 2003 debut EP, Translating the Name, featured singer Andy Green, former Slayer drum tech Pat McGrath, and current Ashlee Simpson band bassist Zach Kennedy. The disc was the beginning of a grassroots sensation, and as the lineup underwent wholesale changes, the band's initial double-bass blasts and strong-arm guitar have faded since Green's high-pitch vocals became a part of the past. The group's sound has congealed into a model of Warped-era pop: squeaky-clean harmonies over big guitar chords that practically shimmer, usually atop positive-leaning vocals.
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Despite the changes in Saosin's sound, the crowds have kept coming, hungry for new material. Cross-country treks with bands like Boys Night Out led to slots with AFI and the Taste of Chaos tour. Last year the group signed with Capitol Records. Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Head Automatica) produced the new disc, which cranks up the sheen from last year's self-titled EP, breezing from double-guitar crunch to anthemic choruses. And like the rhino beetle on the album cover, Saosin, compared with the band's initial sound, is slighter but still formidable.