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
+ - 1,726 779
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
+ - 1,022 551
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Strokes Garage rock, Power pop, Alternative rock

3
+ - 790 470
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Radiohead Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

4
+ - 600 145
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Arcana Baroque pop/rock

5
+ - 930 529
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Killers Pop punk, Synthpop, New Wave

6
+ - 765 604
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arcade Fire Indie pop, Alternative rock, Art rock

7
+ - 835 588
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Vampire Weekend New Wave, Synthpop, Jazz fusion

8
+ - 498 161
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Smiths Jangle pop, Indie pop, Alternative rock

9
+ - 669 516
Muse is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Muse Space rock, Rock music, Electronic music

10
+ - 590 381
Modest Mouse is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Modest Mouse Indie pop, Garage rock, Space rock

11
+ - 609 352
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Tame Impala Space rock, Neo-psychedelia, Dream pop

12
+ - 683 297
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
+ - 849 513
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
+ - 314 243
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Sonic Youth Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

15
+ - 507 261
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Pixies Experimental rock, Grunge, Noise

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16
+ - 383 319
Neutral Milk Hotel is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Neutral Milk Hotel Indie pop, Psychedelic folk, Rock music

17
+ - 683 496
Mumford & Sons is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Mumford & Sons Pop music, Folk rock, Pop rock

18
+ - 177 72
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
R.E.M. Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

19
+ - 520 244
The Kooks is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Kooks Indie pop, Pop music, Rock music

20
+ - 273 201
Sufjan Stevens is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Sufjan Stevens Christian music, Alternative country, Baroque pop

21
+ - 258 239
The Decemberists is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Decemberists Indie pop, Rock music, Folk rock

22
+ - 347 113
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Black Keys Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

23
+ - 671 378
Alt-J is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Alt-J Psychedelic folk, Experimental music, Alternative rock

24
+ - 568 316
Bon Iver is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bon Iver Indie, Neo soul, Folk music

25
+ - 377 328
The National is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The National Indie folk, Indie rock

26
+ - 317 267
Interpol is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Interpol Alternative rock, Indie rock, Post-punk revival

27
+ - 449 325
Franz Ferdinand is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Franz Ferdinand New Wave, Rock music, Dance-punk

28
+ - 160 129
Wilco is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Wilco Rock music, Experimental rock, Folk rock

29
+ - 677 332
Two Door Cinema Club is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Two Door Cinema Club Indie pop, Synthpop, New Wave

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30
+ - 742 377
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
+ - 644 249
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
+ - 246 66
Gorillaz is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Gorillaz Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop

33
+ - 156 48
Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Joy Division Punk rock, Post-punk

34
+ - 231 65
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Oasis Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

35
+ - 228 186
Bright Eyes is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bright Eyes Indie pop, Folk music, Emo

36
+ - 202 121
Foals is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Foals Dance-punk, New Prog, Alternative dance

37
+ - 197 169
St. Vincent is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
St. Vincent Indie pop, Downtempo, Folk music

38
+ - 195 54
MGMT is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MGMT Synthpop, New Wave, Dance-punk

39
+ - 337 186
Snow Patrol is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Snow Patrol Post-Britpop, Folk rock, Power pop

40
+ - 501 243
Hozier is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Hozier Indie rock, Folk, Soul

41
+ - 628 335
Imagine Dragons is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Imagine Dragons Indie pop, Pop music, Alternative rock

42
+ - 281 78
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Cure New Wave, Gothic rock, Rock music

43
+ - 640 348
Bastille is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bastille Synthpop, Alternative rock

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44
+ - 251 190
Regina Spektor is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Regina Spektor Indie pop, Anti-folk, Pop music

45
+ - 230 128
Ranker Video v
Phoenix Synthpop, New Wave, French rock

46
+ - 379 242
Passion Pit is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Passion Pit Indie pop, Synthpop, New Wave

47
+ - 155 81
Fleet Foxes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Fleet Foxes Indie pop, Folk music, Folk rock

48
+ - 192 154
Spoon is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Spoon Third-wave of ska, Garage rock, Alternative rock

49
+ - 188 154
Pavement is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Pavement Alternative rock, Noise pop, Indie rock

50
+ - 208 180
Belle & Sebastian is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Belle & Sebastian Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rock music