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. 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. 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
2,388 1,130
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arctic Monkeys Trip hop, Dance-punk, Garage rock

2
1,376 811
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Strokes Garage rock, Power pop, Alternative rock

3
1,296 756
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added The Killers Pop punk, Synthpop, New Wave

4
1,243 735
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Radiohead Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

5
866 364
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Smiths Jangle pop, Indie pop, Alternative rock

6
1,009 812
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arcade Fire Indie pop, Alternative rock, Art rock

7
938 730
Muse is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Muse Space rock, Rock music, Electronic music

8
887 544
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Tame Impala Space rock, Neo-psychedelia, Dream pop

9
1,036 777
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Vampire Weekend New Wave, Synthpop, Jazz fusion

10
1,100 639
Florence and the Machine is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Florence and the Machine Neo soul, Baroque pop, Electronica

11
737 528
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
695 373
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Pixies Experimental rock, Grunge, Noise

13
949 391
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
358 155
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
R.E.M. Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

The Best Indie Songs of 2018

15
530 202
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Black Keys Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

16
868 623
Mumford & Sons is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Mumford & Sons Pop music, Folk rock, Pop rock

17
587 407
Franz Ferdinand is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Franz Ferdinand New Wave, Rock music, Dance-punk

18
912 326
Foster the People is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Foster the People Indie pop, Synthpop, Rock music

19
722 332
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
408 329
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Sonic Youth Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

21
888 397
Two Door Cinema Club is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Two Door Cinema Club Indie pop, Synthpop, New Wave

The Best Rental Car Agencies

22
370 293
Sufjan Stevens is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Sufjan Stevens Christian music, Alternative country, Baroque pop

23
386 120
MGMT is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MGMT Synthpop, New Wave, Dance-punk

24
481 406
The National is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The National Indie folk, Indie rock

25
478 411
Neutral Milk Hotel is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Neutral Milk Hotel Indie pop, Psychedelic folk, Rock music

26
411 339
Interpol is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Interpol Alternative rock, Indie rock, Post-punk revival

27
722 407
Bon Iver is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bon Iver Indie, Neo soul, Folk music

28
921 447
Of Monsters and Men is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Of Monsters and Men Indie pop, Ska, Folk rock

Indie Musicians You Didn’t Know Were a Couple

29
313 102
Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Joy Division Punk rock, Post-punk

30
887 454
Alt-J is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Alt-J Psychedelic folk, Experimental music, Alternative rock

31
848 436
Bastille is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bastille Synthpop, Alternative rock

32
900 480
Imagine Dragons is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Imagine Dragons Indie pop, Pop music, Alternative rock

33
215 201
Wilco is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
WarrenMitchell added Wilco Rock music, Experimental rock, Folk rock

34
323 324
The Decemberists is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added The Decemberists Indie pop, Rock music, Folk rock

35
295 181
Foals is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Foals Dance-punk, New Prog, Alternative dance

The 37 Greatest On-Stage Falls of All Time

36
397 270
Band of Horses is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Band of Horses Rock music, Alternative country, Indie rock

37
483 141
Gorillaz is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Gorillaz Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop

38
672 321
Hozier is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Hozier Indie rock, Folk, Soul

39
441 256
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
464 150
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Oasis Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

41
322 187
Ranker Video
Phoenix Synthpop, New Wave, French rock

42
871 2,250
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Arcana Baroque pop/rock

The Best R&B Songs of 2018

43
393 130
The Lumineers is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Whitney Van Laningham added The Lumineers Americana, Folk rock, Alternative rock

44
301 258
Regina Spektor is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
HoserUSC added Regina Spektor Indie pop, Anti-folk, Pop music

45
327 110
The xx is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The xx Indie pop, New Wave, Electronic music

46
427 124
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Cure New Wave, Gothic rock, Rock music

47
284 257
Bright Eyes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Bright Eyes Indie pop, Folk music, Emo

48
291 200
Grizzly Bear is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Grizzly Bear Psychedelic folk, Rock music, Psychedelic pop

49
241 158
The Vaccines is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
HoserUSC added The Vaccines Pop music, Garage rock, Indie rock

50
260 239
Belle & Sebastian is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Belle & Sebastian Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rock music