1. Sunny Day Real Estate, 'Diary' (1994)
In the early Nineties, Seattle was synonymous with grunge, but Sunny Day Real Estate didn't bother reading the memo. Formed by a trio of hardcore lifers in 1992 the group found their secret weapon in Jeremy Enigk, an 18-year-old with a supernatural falsetto. Channeling the Dischord catalog's melodic ferocity and U2's arena spirituality, SDRE mapped out Diary during a series of lengthy jam sessions. Recorded after their first national tour in 1993, Diary captures the vague inner-turmoil of Enigk's lyrics and propels those turbulent emotions to the heavens. In the ensuing years hundreds of bands have tried to replicate the magic of "In Circles" and "Seven," though few albums had the same tectonic effect. L.G.