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The Sleeping

Seeing as there is no more tired current music trend than emo, it's a pleasure to report that the second album by the clever young Long Island band The Sleeping is facilitating the evolution of the genre by digging into rock roots of the 1970s and '80s--specifically, hard-rock riffage, new-wavey keyboard figures, catchy melodies and a rugged affection for experimentalism.

This CD is packed with a pageant of surprises--from the Tubes-like pop catchiness of "Listen Close" to the '70s cop-show gravitas of the electric piano interludes on "Dearest Mistake" to the jazz guitar and quasi-hip-hop rhythms of "The Big Breakdown: Day 3 (The Escape)."

Before it descends into a funky neo-metal groove, "Don't Hold Back" works over a guitar motif that recalls some gene-splicing of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. The high-flying epic nature of "The Climb" and the eight-minute "Still" make for sah-weet rock opera, à la System of a Down or maybe The Mars Volta.

It's probably no surprise, then, that singer Doug Robinson's high-pitched yowls pay tribute to the earlier work (in At the Drive-In) of amazing Mars Volta vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala.

The lyrics lean at times toward angsty high school poetry, but what matter? They fit the music, which aims to be grand and gritty at the same time. The Sleeping makes the freshest prog-rock to come out of the emo/hard-core camp in ages.

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