Label: Sub Pop Sunny Day Real Estate's debut album, Diary, virtually defined emo in the '90s, laying much of the groundwork for the genre's end-of-decade indie prominence. Although emo existed (both as a term and as a style) prior to Diary, it hadn't yet risen out of the deepest hardcore punk underground, save for a few bands on the Dischord label. For all intents and purposes, Diary was the album that made emo accessible, fusing its gnarled guitars and nakedly emotional vocals with more than a hint of melodic Seattle grunge. There are plenty of quiet, arpeggiated passages and contrasting dynamics; for another, vocalist Jeremy Enigk is more of a crooner than a screamer at heart, and the underlying tenderness in his voice breathes majesty into the group's slow, languid melodies. But even if it isn't quite the top-to-bottom masterpiece its legions of imitators suggest, Diary still ranks as arguably the definitive '90s emo album, and an indispensable introduction to the genre.