14. Waxahatchee, 'Out in the Storm'
No songwriter handles the curves and swerves of modern romance quite like Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield. Her band's fourth album Out in the Storm is the kind of breakthrough that heralds a major artist truly finding her voice, as she digs herself out of what sounds like some gnarly emotional wreckage. It's like a punk rock answer to Carole King's Tapestry. "8 Ball" and "Silver" are full of wise-ass guitar twang, as the Alabama-born Crutchfield talks shit about the menfolk but mostly dishes the dirt about her heart-on-fire self. In "Sparks Fly" she gets a spiritual boost from twin sister Alison, who dropped her own excellent album this year with Tourist in This Town. This is the best kind of break-up journal – the kind you want to blast out loud. R.S.