Emo Diaries is a series put together by Deep Elm Records to spotlight lesser-known bands that fall under the emotional punk-inspired sound known in shorthand as emo. The tracks on Vol. 9 are all previously unreleased and around half of the bands hail from outside of the U.S., showing just how big the whole emo scene has become. So Sad Althea, Surrounded, Iamuse, and the National Anthems come from Sweden, Local Art is from Japan, Settlefish is from Italy, and At the Close of the Day is from the Netherlands. The rest of the groups come from Georgia (Michael & the Paper Champions), New York City (La Pieta), and Texas (Milton Mapes). Each of the 12 tracks sounds professional and accomplished. Also, apart from the anguished vocals and sad lyrics, the bands are strangely emotionless. The glossy production values and lack of exciting moments will most likely leave listeners cold. The bands here sound like the wave of groups that popped up during the heyday of the alternative scene, took all the emotion and power out of the sound, and replaced it with earnest determination and the dreaded scourge of good pop and punk: musical chops. Bands like Iamuse, the National Anthems, and the Paper Champions sound bereft of inspiration and far too weary and weak for such young bands. There is the occasional glimmer of hope, like during the epic guitar solo of Surrounded's "High Five Hiero" and Rachel Dannefer's sweet vocals on La Pieta's charmingly sparse "More of the Sky," but overall this is a disappointing collection that seems to hint that emo has run out of gas. Highly unrecommended.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra