alternative music 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
1,898 876
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arctic Monkeys Trip hop, Dance-punk, Garage rock

Indie Musicians You Didn’t Know Were a Couple The Best Ford Trucks of All Time

2
1,123 615
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Strokes Garage rock, Power pop, Alternative rock

3
928 574
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Radiohead Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

4
747 210
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Arcana Baroque pop/rock

5
602 212
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added The Smiths Jangle pop, Indie pop, Alternative rock

6
1,029 581
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added The Killers Pop punk, Synthpop, New Wave

7
745 556
Muse is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Muse Space rock, Rock music, Electronic music

8
830 651
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arcade Fire Indie pop, Alternative rock, Art rock

9
899 621
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Vampire Weekend New Wave, Synthpop, Jazz fusion

10
636 410
Modest Mouse is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Modest Mouse Indie pop, Garage rock, Space rock

11
678 383
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Tame Impala Space rock, Neo-psychedelia, Dream pop

12
568 279
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Pixies Experimental rock, Grunge, Noise

13
748 321
Cage the Elephant is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Cage the Elephant Punk blues, Garage rock, Garage punk

14
920 540
Florence and the Machine is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Florence and the Machine Neo soul, Baroque pop, Electronica

15
228 94
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added R.E.M. Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

The Best Indie Folk Bands & Artists 16 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do

16
346 265
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Sonic Youth Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

17
744 524
Mumford & Sons is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Mumford & Sons Pop music, Folk rock, Pop rock

18
412 349
Neutral Milk Hotel is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Neutral Milk Hotel Indie pop, Psychedelic folk, Rock music

19
571 267
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
397 131
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
739 402
Alt-J is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Alt-J Psychedelic folk, Experimental music, Alternative rock

22
281 264
The Decemberists is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added The Decemberists Indie pop, Rock music, Folk rock

23
292 227
Sufjan Stevens is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Sufjan Stevens Christian music, Alternative country, Baroque pop

24
611 336
Bon Iver is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bon Iver Indie, Neo soul, Folk music

25
748 349
Two Door Cinema Club is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Two Door Cinema Club Indie pop, Synthpop, New Wave

26
344 286
Interpol is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Interpol Alternative rock, Indie rock, Post-punk revival

27
487 349
Franz Ferdinand is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Franz Ferdinand New Wave, Rock music, Dance-punk

28
397 353
The National is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The National Indie folk, Indie rock

29
792 393
Of Monsters and Men is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Of Monsters and Men Indie pop, Ska, Folk rock

The Best Christian Rock Bands & Artists 51 High-Paying, Flexible Jobs

30
704 272
Foster the People is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Foster the People Indie pop, Synthpop, Rock music

31
316 82
Gorillaz is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added Gorillaz Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop

32
176 151
Wilco is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
WarrenMitchell added Wilco Rock music, Experimental rock, Folk rock

33
202 65
Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added Joy Division Punk rock, Post-punk

34
296 86
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Oasis Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

35
238 69
MGMT is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added MGMT Synthpop, New Wave, Dance-punk

36
233 141
Foals is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Foals Dance-punk, New Prog, Alternative dance

37
246 207
Bright Eyes is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Bright Eyes Indie pop, Folk music, Emo

38
323 88
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added The Cure New Wave, Gothic rock, Rock music

39
544 266
Hozier is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Hozier Indie rock, Folk, Soul

40
700 366
Bastille is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bastille Synthpop, Alternative rock

41
702 368
Imagine Dragons is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Imagine Dragons Indie pop, Pop music, Alternative rock

42
358 207
Snow Patrol is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Snow Patrol Post-Britpop, Folk rock, Power pop

43
265 142
Ranker Video
julian-matthias added Phoenix Synthpop, New Wave, French rock

The Very Best Christian Bands & Artists The Best Diaper Brands

44
208 191
St. Vincent is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added St. Vincent Indie pop, Downtempo, Folk music

45
409 269
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
270 214
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
272 83
The Lumineers is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Whitney Van Laningham added The Lumineers Americana, Folk rock, Alternative rock

48
217 169
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
180 96
Fleet Foxes is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Whitney Van Laningham added Fleet Foxes Indie pop, Folk music, Folk rock

50
206 164
Pavement is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Pavement Alternative rock, Noise pop, Indie rock