Some of the best new music is coming from little-known female singers with strong claims to be the new Lady Gaga or Joni Mitchell. There’s also much to recommend by M.I.A., Amy Macdonald, Katie Melua, Corinne Bailey Rae and Laurie Anderson — but here are the best of the new releases that are worth downloading.

Artist: Janelle Monae
“The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)”
Wondaland Arts

: Monae’s debut EP was the first act of a rock opera about a paranoid robot planning world domination. Now comes the concept album as the 24-year-old plots her own rise. The mishmash of styles is both magnificent and messy. Is she Madonna, Paul McCartney or Morrissey?
Rating: 4 (out of 5)

Artist: Marnie Stern
Title: “Marnie Stern”
Label: Kill Rock Stars

Review: On this self-titled CD by a New Yorker known for her finger-tapping guitar work and confessional lyrics, the playing is hyperactive. Tracks such as “For Ash” are raw and tender.
Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)

Artist: Lissie
Title: “Catching a Tiger”
Label: Columbia

Review: YouTube fans will know the Illinois native for her soulful cover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.” Now she lets loose on a selection of her own songs such as “When I’m Alone.” Lissie sounds like a hot, younger Stevie Nicks.
Rating: 3 (out of 5)

Artist: Joanna Newsom
Title: “Have One on Me”
Label: Drag City

Review: This is Newsom’s most accessible collection yet. Electric guitar augments the Californian-born singer’s harp and piano. The title track is an ode to Lola Montez, the 19th-century dancer, and good enough to rise above fears of self-indulgence — the triple CD has multiple tracks close to the 10-minute mark.
Rating: 3 (out of 5)

: Thea Gilmore
Title: “Murphy’s Heart”
Label: Fullfill

Review: A woefully underrated U.K. folk rocker, Gilmore, 30, has been turning out a CD a year for a decade now. Her 2001 live favorite number, “This Girl Is Taking Bets,” now has a rival in “This Town” (“I’m your worst fear, a graveyard souvenir”).
Rating: 3 (out of 5)