Feisty girls who pack a punch

In January, thousands of music lovers here got a sweet, sweet taste of popular Australian indie festival, St Jerome's Laneway, in its first Singapore edition.

Besides including some awesome emerging acts, including Melbourne's The Temper Trap and British outfit Foals, the festival's line-up also proved this: Females in the indie scene are truly a force to be reckoned with.

Kick-ass girlies like New Zealand lass Ladyhawke and American art-rock trio Warpaint, among others, rocked the house.

Next year's festival, too, will be graced by several women who are known for being ambitious, original and very independent.

Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist - known better just by her last name - has gone from a mere member of rock collective Broken Social Scene to full-fledged indie darling.

And the Grammy-nominated singer's fourth album, Metals - recorded in a barn in the Californian coastal region of Big Sur during the 35-year-old's recent 18-month sabbatical - has impressed critics everywhere.

The first thing one realises when listening to this album is that there is nary a song on it with the instant appeal of 2007's sunny 1, 2, 3, 4. Never mind, because each song here beguiles.

Lead single How Come You Never Go There?, for example, is free of the too-slick gloss which often mars modern hits. Instead, How Come swings along most jazzily, like a tune on a late-night jam in a smoke- filled club.

On the sparse Comfort Me, Feist coos in honeyed tones: "When you comfort me/It doesn't bring me comfort, actually."

That dreamy croon swells beautifully on the chorus of Graveyard, too.

Meanwhile, another upcoming Laneway attendee, British folk singer Laura Marling, 21, enchants on her third effort, A Creature I Don't Know.

The 10-tracker follows Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008) and I Speak Because I Can (2010) - both of which were nominated for Britain's Mercury Prize.

Marling's voice has icy- but- honest nuances, and a crystal-clear tone. As for her songwriting style, let's just say that the girl possesses a preternatural maturity.

From album opener The Muse - a jaunty narrative involving "the beast", who appears frequently on other numbers, too - to the sprawling Salinas and hushed Night After Night, it's almost all compelling.

By the time the country-influenced heart-wrencher Sophia rolls around ("Where I've been lately is no concern of yours," Marling sings testily), one's hooked. So, come on, let's hear it for the girls!