Alternative Music The Best Indie Bands & Artists  

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104k votes 10.3k voters 312.6k views 590 items

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
2,668 1,296
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Trip hop, Dance-punk, Garage rock

2
1,564 920
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Garage rock, Power pop, Alternative rock

3
1,463 827
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

4
1,481 863
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Pop punk, Synthpop, New Wave

5
1,057 428
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Jangle pop, Indie pop, Alternative rock

6
1,132 897
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Alternative rock, Art rock

7
1,039 829
Muse is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Space rock, Rock music, Electronic music

8
1,054 607
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Space rock, Neo-psychedelia, Dream pop

9
1,147 849
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
New Wave, Synthpop, Jazz fusion

10
1,236 704
Florence and the Machine is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Neo soul, Baroque pop, Electronica

11
833 584
Modest Mouse is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Indie pop, Garage rock, Space rock

12
815 411
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Experimental rock, Grunge, Noise

13
1,104 443
Cage the Elephant is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Punk blues, Garage rock, Garage punk

14
467 205
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

15
672 451
Franz Ferdinand is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
New Wave, Rock music, Dance-punk

16
638 245
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

17
975 693
Mumford & Sons is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Pop music, Folk rock, Pop rock

18
1,069 383
Foster the People is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Synthpop, Rock music

19
809 373
The Kooks is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
CatalinaEspinoza added Indie pop, Pop music, Rock music

20
465 360
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

21
478 366
Interpol is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Alternative rock, Indie rock, Post-punk revival

22
545 441
The National is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie folk, Indie rock

23
429 330
Sufjan Stevens is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Christian music, Alternative country, Baroque pop

24
1,004 440
Two Door Cinema Club is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Synthpop, New Wave

25
485 159
MGMT is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Synthpop, New Wave, Dance-punk

26
526 444
Neutral Milk Hotel is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Indie pop, Psychedelic folk, Rock music

27
396 118
Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Punk rock, Post-punk

28
795 442
Bon Iver is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie, Neo soul, Folk music

29
1,022 476
Of Monsters and Men is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Ska, Folk rock

30
984 489
Alt-J is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Psychedelic folk, Experimental music, Alternative rock

31
947 471
Bastille is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Synthpop, Alternative rock

32
253 219
Wilco is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
WarrenMitchell added Rock music, Experimental rock, Folk rock

33
360 350
The Decemberists is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Indie pop, Rock music, Folk rock

34
1,043 578
Imagine Dragons is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Pop music, Alternative rock

35
614 171
Gorillaz is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop

36
434 293
Band of Horses is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Rock music, Alternative country, Indie rock

37
322 205
Foals is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Dance-punk, New Prog, Alternative dance

38
751 352
Hozier is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Indie rock, Folk, Soul

39
576 174
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

40
493 284
Snow Patrol is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Post-Britpop, Folk rock, Power pop

41
488 151
The Lumineers is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Whitney Van Laningham added Americana, Folk rock, Alternative rock

42
364 204
Ranker Video
Synthpop, New Wave, French rock

43
875 2,276
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Baroque pop/rock

44
522 132
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
New Wave, Gothic rock, Rock music

45
389 131
The xx is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, New Wave, Electronic music

46
328 279
Regina Spektor is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
HoserUSC added Indie pop, Anti-folk, Pop music

47
314 275
Bright Eyes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Indie pop, Folk music, Emo

48
327 220
Grizzly Bear is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Psychedelic folk, Rock music, Psychedelic pop

49
280 253
St. Vincent is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Indie pop, Downtempo, Folk music

50
262 172
The Vaccines is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
HoserUSC added Pop music, Garage rock, Indie rock