17.7k voters

The Best Indie Bands & Artists

Updated October 2, 2019 189.6k votes 17.7k voters 487.9k views543 items

List RulesBands 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. Making some of the best indie songs of 2018, 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 - whether old classics or indie bands popular today. 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.

  • 1
    The Cure is an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex in 1976. The band members have...  more

    More The Cure 

    Behind The Scenes Of 'Disintegration', The Cure's Dark And Brooding Masterpiece#16 of 109 The Best Musical Trios Of All-Time

  • 2
    The Smiths were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1982. The group consisted of...  more

    More The Smiths 

    The Best Smiths Songs of All Time#95 of 465 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s

  • 3
    Radiohead are an English rock band formed in Abingdon-on-Thames in 1985. The band consists of...  more

    More Radiohead 

    The Best Radiohead Songs of All Time#30 of 383 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s

  • 4
    Joy Division were an English rock band formed in Salford in 1976. The group consisted of...  more

    More Joy Division 

    All Joy Division Songs: Ranked Best to Worst#13 of 65 The Best Bands Named After Books and Literary Characters

  • 5
    Oasis were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1991. Developed from an earlier group,...  more

    More Oasis 

    The Best Oasis Songs of All Time#4 of 10 Inside The Biggest And Nastiest Rap Vs. Rock Beefs Ever

  • 6
    The Pixies are an American rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986. The group...  more

    More Pixies 

    The Best Pixies Albums of All-Time#1 of 12 Pettiest Reasons Bands Broke Up

  • 7
    Arctic Monkeys is an English rock band formed in Sheffield in 2002. The group consists of Alex...  more

    More Arctic Monkeys 

    The Best Arctic Monkeys Songs of All Time#45 of 50 We Asked, You Answered: What Artist Has No Bad Songs?

  • 8
    R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by drummer Bill Berry,...  more

    More R.E.M. 

    #85 of 279 The Greatest American Rock Bands#33 of 139 Bands Or Artists With Five Great Albums

  • 9
    Cage the Elephant is an American rock band from Bowling Green, Kentucky, that formed in 2006....  more

    More Cage the Elephant 

    The Best Cage The Elephant Songs#14 of 40 The Best Bands Named After Desert Animals

  • 10
    Blur are an English rock band, formed in London in 1988. The group consists of...  more

    More Blur 

    #533 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time#250 of 359 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

  • 11
    The Strokes are an American rock band formed in New York City in 1998, consisting of Julian...  more

    More The Strokes 

    The Best Strokes Songs of All Time#84 of 88 Acts You'd Like To See As The Super Bowl Half Time Show

  • 12
    Tame Impala is the psychedelic recording project of Kevin Parker, from Perth, Australia, and...  more

    More Tame Impala 

    The Best Bands Like Tame Impala#70 of 254 The Best Bands With Animal Names

  • 13
    The Stone Roses are an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1983. They were one of the...  more

    More The Stone Roses 

    #8 of 25 The Best English Boy Bands#102 of 106 Which Bands Or Musicians Do You Most Want To See Before They (Or You) Kick The Bucket?

  • 14
    MGMT is an American psychedelic rock band founded by Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew...  more

    More MGMT 

    #126 of 418 The Most Influential DJs of All Time#48 of 160 The Very Best Indie Pop Bands & Artists

  • 15
    Foster the People is an American indie pop band formed in Los Angeles, California in 2009. The...  more

    More Foster the People 

    #833 of 1,019 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time#21 of 23 The Best Band Name Origin Stories

  • 16
    Death Cab for Cutie is an American alternative rock band, formed in Bellingham, WA, in 1997....  more

    More Death Cab for Cutie 

    The Best Death Cab For Cutie Songs#12 of 36 The Best Bands Named After Songs

  • 17
    Gorillaz are a British virtual band created in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie...  more

    More Gorillaz 

    The Best Gorillaz Songs of All Time#56 of 123 The Best Hip Hop Groups of All Time

  • 18
    The Black Keys is an American rock band formed in Akron, Ohio, in 2001. The group consists of...  more

    More The Black Keys 

    The Best Black Keys Songs#205 of 225 The Best Blues Artists of All Time

  • 19
    The Killers are an American rock band formed in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2001 by members Brandon...  more

    More The Killers 

    The Best Killers Songs of All Time#54 of 85 Who Do You Want To See On Carpool Karaoke?

  • 20
    Bon Iver () is an American indie folk band founded in 2006 by singer-songwriter Justin...  more

    More Bon Iver 

    The Best Bon Iver Songs#522 of 816 These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time

  • 21
    The Shins are an American indie rock band formed in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1996. The...  more

    More The Shins 

    The Best Shins Songs#14 of 74 The Best Bands Named After Body Parts

  • 22
    Florence and the Machine (stylised as Florence + the Machine) are an English indie rock band...  more

    More Florence + the Machine 

    The Best Florence and the Machine Albums, Ranked#132 of 602 The Best Female Vocalists Ever

  • 23
    Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are an Australian rock band formed in Melbourne in 1983 by...  more

    More Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 

    The Best Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds Albums of All Time#16 of 97 The Best Post-punk Bands

  • 24
    Arcade Fire is a Canadian indie rock band, consisting of husband and wife Win Butler and...  more

    More Arcade Fire 

    All Arcade Fire Songs: Ranked Best to Worst#34 of 101 The Best Musical Groups Featuring Brothers, Ranked

  • 25
    The Yeah Yeah Yeahs is an American indie rock band formed in New York City in 2000. The group...  more

    More Yeah Yeah Yeahs 

    The Best Yeah Yeah Yeahs Albums of All Time#35 of 151 The Greatest Chick Rock Bands Ever