Essential Song: "#1 Crush" (Purchase/Download)
Alison Mosshart is the singer for the British postpunk duo the Kills, but her profile grew significantly when she teamed up with Jack White to form the Dead Weather, a bruising garage-rock quartet that put out their first album, Horehound, in 2009. As the vocalist for the Dead Weather, she adds a sensual, scary undercurrent to the band's raw songs.
Essential Song: "Treat Me Like Your Mother" (Purchase/Download)
Essential Song: "Maps" (Purchase/Download)
Before Liz Phair came onto the scene in the early '90s, indie-rock was a male-dominated field. But after her debut, Exile in Guyville, a frank and astounding collection of sexually-charged songs, Phair became an unofficial spokesperson for all the female singer-songwriters who wanted to speak honestly about relationships and insecurities. Her career has found her evolving over time, exploiting her come-hither demeanor while at the same time addressing issues of motherhood and divorce.
Essential Song: "Supernova" (Purchase/Download)
Granted, they split up after their last album, 2005's The Woods, but Sleater-Kinney's legacy still looms large. This indie-rock trio, led by guitarist-vocalists Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker, tackled celebrity, feminism, suicide, and the struggles of being women in a male-dominated rock world. But over the span of a 10-year career, they rock-and-rolled as ferociously as anyone, raising the bar for the competition, whether male or female.
Essential Song: "You're No Rock N' Roll Fun" (Purchase/Download)
She may speak less than her bandmate Jack White, but White Stripes drummer Meg White was an absolutely crucial component in the duo's combustive garage-rock. Serving as the rhythmic backbone for Jack's songs -- and also being his muse on the band's early albums -- Meg has long since silenced the doubters who questioned her skills behind the kit. (Plus, she's a pretty decent vocalist, as witnessed on "In the Cold, Cold Night.")
Essential Song: "In the Cold, Cold Night" (Purchase/Download)
Before Hayley Williams was old enough to drink, her band Paramore had released three albums of pop-punk material that displayed a growing sophistication and emotional heft. As the frontwoman for one of rock's most promising up-and-coming bands, she attracts most of the attention from the press, but Paramore's tight musicianship argues that this quintet are a unit rather than just a cute girl and a bunch of dudes.
Essential Song: "Decode" (Purchase/Download)