indie The Best Indie Bands & Artists  

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List Rules Bands that are on independent music labels - bands that started on indie labels, but later signed with big labels are okay too

Before the genre became mainstream (which in itself is paradoxical) indie bands meant that a particular group was signed to an independent record label. Over time, indie music, and thus, the best indie bands, have come to be defined as a particular sound that strays from the mainstream and experiments with new sounds, melodies, and lyrics. Many of the top indie rock bands do remain loyal to the labels that took a chance on them when they were up-and-comers and stay on independent labels. Most good indie bands (and fans of the genre) are proud to say that they've eschewed the mainstream and have maintained their freedom as an indie artist. It's a great perk to have, and all of the best indie rock bands may not have the biggest album sales - but by retaining their indie cred, it allows them to become popular beyond the scope of indie music.

So, what are the best indie bands? Any list of of indie bands has to include the likes of The Strokes, Alt-J, Cage the Elephant, Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend and Florence and the Machine. These indie bands are singers widely known for their popularity and bringing indie music to the mainstream. They've headlined arenas and festivals and even with this widespread success, they're true to their indie ethos and remain the best indie rock bands.

That said, it's up to you to determine what are the best indie bands. If you know indie music, feel free to chime in and vote on this list. If you notice that a band isn't on this list and should be, feel free to add them. This list answers the questions "who are the best indie bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest indie musician ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular indie musicians that you might've heard of.
list ordered by

1
1,804 807
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arctic Monkeys Trip hop, Dance-punk, Garage rock

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2
1,076 573
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Strokes Garage rock, Power pop, Alternative rock

3
864 529
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Radiohead Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

4
678 183
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Arcana Baroque pop/rock

5
988 552
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added The Killers Pop punk, Synthpop, New Wave

6
798 624
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arcade Fire Indie pop, Alternative rock, Art rock

7
869 604
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Vampire Weekend New Wave, Synthpop, Jazz fusion

8
553 174
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added The Smiths Jangle pop, Indie pop, Alternative rock

9
707 531
Muse is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Muse Space rock, Rock music, Electronic music

10
652 362
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Tame Impala Space rock, Neo-psychedelia, Dream pop

11
608 395
Modest Mouse is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Modest Mouse Indie pop, Garage rock, Space rock

12
721 304
Cage the Elephant is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Cage the Elephant Punk blues, Garage rock, Garage punk

13
889 527
Florence and the Machine is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Florence and the Machine Neo soul, Baroque pop, Electronica

14
535 271
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Pixies Experimental rock, Grunge, Noise

15
334 253
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Sonic Youth Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

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16
400 330
Neutral Milk Hotel is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Neutral Milk Hotel Indie pop, Psychedelic folk, Rock music

17
712 513
Mumford & Sons is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Mumford & Sons Pop music, Folk rock, Pop rock

18
204 85
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added R.E.M. Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

19
540 256
The Kooks is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
CatalinaEspinoza added The Kooks Indie pop, Pop music, Rock music

20
375 121
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added The Black Keys Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

21
283 212
Sufjan Stevens is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Sufjan Stevens Christian music, Alternative country, Baroque pop

22
708 388
Alt-J is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Alt-J Psychedelic folk, Experimental music, Alternative rock

23
270 251
The Decemberists is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added The Decemberists Indie pop, Rock music, Folk rock

24
338 273
Interpol is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Interpol Alternative rock, Indie rock, Post-punk revival

25
587 323
Bon Iver is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bon Iver Indie, Neo soul, Folk music

26
711 338
Two Door Cinema Club is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Two Door Cinema Club Indie pop, Synthpop, New Wave

27
387 339
The National is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The National Indie folk, Indie rock

28
471 337
Franz Ferdinand is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Franz Ferdinand New Wave, Rock music, Dance-punk

29
171 135
Wilco is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
WarrenMitchell added Wilco Rock music, Experimental rock, Folk rock

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30
764 384
Of Monsters and Men is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Of Monsters and Men Indie pop, Ska, Folk rock

31
673 259
Foster the People is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Foster the People Indie pop, Synthpop, Rock music

32
283 73
Gorillaz is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added Gorillaz Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop

33
263 72
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Oasis Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

34
176 54
Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added Joy Division Punk rock, Post-punk

35
219 130
Foals is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Foals Dance-punk, New Prog, Alternative dance

36
234 195
Bright Eyes is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Bright Eyes Indie pop, Folk music, Emo

37
523 252
Hozier is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Hozier Indie rock, Folk, Soul

38
212 63
MGMT is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added MGMT Synthpop, New Wave, Dance-punk

39
348 195
Snow Patrol is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Snow Patrol Post-Britpop, Folk rock, Power pop

40
202 177
St. Vincent is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added St. Vincent Indie pop, Downtempo, Folk music

41
300 82
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added The Cure New Wave, Gothic rock, Rock music

42
662 348
Imagine Dragons is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Imagine Dragons Indie pop, Pop music, Alternative rock

43
672 357
Bastille is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bastille Synthpop, Alternative rock

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44
241 133
Ranker Video
julian-matthias added Phoenix Synthpop, New Wave, French rock

45
395 253
Passion Pit is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
HoserUSC added Passion Pit Indie pop, Synthpop, New Wave

46
257 201
Regina Spektor is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
HoserUSC added Regina Spektor Indie pop, Anti-folk, Pop music

47
165 86
Fleet Foxes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Whitney Van Laningham added Fleet Foxes Indie pop, Folk music, Folk rock

48
202 158
Spoon is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
HoserUSC added Spoon Third-wave of ska, Garage rock, Alternative rock

49
244 74
The Lumineers is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Whitney Van Laningham added The Lumineers Americana, Folk rock, Alternative rock

50
196 158
Pavement is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Pavement Alternative rock, Noise pop, Indie rock