alternative music The Best Indie Bands & Artists  

Reference
Originally by
78.4k votes 7.7k voters 244.1k views 556 items Embed

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
2,036 954
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arctic Monkeys Trip hop, Dance-punk, Garage rock

14 Famous People Who Have PhDs The Best Indie Folk Bands & Artists

2
1,196 688
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Strokes Garage rock, Power pop, Alternative rock

3
1,016 631
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Radiohead Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

4
685 263
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added The Smiths Jangle pop, Indie pop, Alternative rock

5
1,095 648
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
874 716
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arcade Fire Indie pop, Alternative rock, Art rock

7
740 443
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Tame Impala Space rock, Neo-psychedelia, Dream pop

8
798 631
Muse is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Muse Space rock, Rock music, Electronic music

9
937 685
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Vampire Weekend New Wave, Synthpop, Jazz fusion

10
605 308
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Pixies Experimental rock, Grunge, Noise

11
662 460
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
972 566
Florence and the Machine is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Florence and the Machine Neo soul, Baroque pop, Electronica

13
804 336
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
262 115
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added R.E.M. Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

15
428 150
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added The Black Keys Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

The Best Christian Rock Bands & Artists The Best Hotel Chains

16
363 280
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
776 556
Mumford & Sons is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Mumford & Sons Pop music, Folk rock, Pop rock

18
640 359
Bon Iver is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bon Iver Indie, Neo soul, Folk music

19
623 287
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
309 248
Sufjan Stevens is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Sufjan Stevens Christian music, Alternative country, Baroque pop

21
430 369
Neutral Milk Hotel is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Neutral Milk Hotel Indie pop, Psychedelic folk, Rock music

22
515 362
Franz Ferdinand is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Franz Ferdinand New Wave, Rock music, Dance-punk

23
365 299
Interpol is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Interpol Alternative rock, Indie rock, Post-punk revival

24
787 416
Alt-J is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Alt-J Psychedelic folk, Experimental music, Alternative rock

25
409 373
The National is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The National Indie folk, Indie rock

26
189 165
Wilco is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
WarrenMitchell added Wilco Rock music, Experimental rock, Folk rock

27
789 363
Two Door Cinema Club is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Two Door Cinema Club Indie pop, Synthpop, New Wave

28
773 282
Foster the People is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Foster the People Indie pop, Synthpop, Rock music

29
282 82
MGMT is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added MGMT Synthpop, New Wave, Dance-punk

The Best Songs on U2's Album Songs of Experience The Sexiest Pictures of the 13 Hottest YouTube Celebrities

30
834 408
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
257 147
Foals is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Foals Dance-punk, New Prog, Alternative dance

32
290 284
The Decemberists is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added The Decemberists Indie pop, Rock music, Folk rock

33
363 98
Gorillaz is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added Gorillaz Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop

34
358 97
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Oasis Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

35
237 71
Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added Joy Division Punk rock, Post-punk

36
285 153
Ranker Video
julian-matthias added Phoenix Synthpop, New Wave, French rock

37
258 72
The xx is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added The xx Indie pop, New Wave, Electronic music

38
357 236
Band of Horses is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Band of Horses Rock music, Alternative country, Indie rock

39
352 95
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
julian-matthias added The Cure New Wave, Gothic rock, Rock music

40
580 279
Hozier is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Hozier Indie rock, Folk, Soul

41
745 381
Bastille is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bastille Synthpop, Alternative rock

42
751 394
Imagine Dragons is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Imagine Dragons Indie pop, Pop music, Alternative rock

43
209 123
The Vaccines is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
HoserUSC added The Vaccines Pop music, Garage rock, Indie rock

The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers The Best EDM YouTube Channels

44
261 219
Bright Eyes is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Bright Eyes Indie pop, Folk music, Emo

45
236 203
Belle & Sebastian is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Belle & Sebastian Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rock music

46
251 167
Grizzly Bear is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Grizzly Bear Psychedelic folk, Rock music, Psychedelic pop

47
377 219
Snow Patrol is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Snow Patrol Post-Britpop, Folk rock, Power pop

48
222 142
Dinosaur Jr is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Dinosaur Jr Noise rock, Grunge, Alternative rock

49
225 199
St. Vincent is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added St. Vincent Indie pop, Downtempo, Folk music

50
304 94
The Lumineers is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Whitney Van Laningham added The Lumineers Americana, Folk rock, Alternative rock