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Various Artists, Sad Songs Remind Me: The Emo Diaries, Chapter Nine (Deep Elm)
What the hell is emo? No one seems to know for certain, and for every self-appointed arbiter of taste claiming that Sunny Day Real Estate is the only true standard by which we know what is and is not emo, there are hundreds of less prominent voices saying that Fugazi or Weezer invented the genre. Since no one really owns the term, it's anyone's guess as to what qualifies, so Deep Elm's stated decision to eschew self-styled definitiveness with their ninth installment of The Emo Diaries is refreshing. The 12 cuts from relative unknowns cohere nearly to the point of monotony, and anyone looking to get a grasp on the genre from this sampler would pick up on the bare instrumentation and lyrical concerns which range all the way from ennui to angst and back again. It might not make a lot of new converts, and Iamuse's wretched "As the Summer Pass Us By" might lose a few, but solid songwriting throughout should delight the faithful looking for the next big thing that won't be so big that you'll have to stop liking them because they're too popular.