Alternative Music The Best Indie Bands & Artists  

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97.8k votes 9.7k voters 295.4k views 579 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.

1
2,532 1,215
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arctic Monkeys Trip hop, Dance-punk, Garage rock

2
1,474 865
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Strokes Garage rock, Power pop, Alternative rock

3
1,345 777
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Radiohead Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

4
1,384 807
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added The Killers Pop punk, Synthpop, New Wave

5
1,070 857
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arcade Fire Indie pop, Alternative rock, Art rock

6
950 402
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Smiths Jangle pop, Indie pop, Alternative rock

7
987 778
Muse is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Muse Space rock, Rock music, Electronic music

8
973 580
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Tame Impala Space rock, Neo-psychedelia, Dream pop

9
1,094 817
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Vampire Weekend New Wave, Synthpop, Jazz fusion

10
1,173 664
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
787 547
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
744 390
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Pixies Experimental rock, Grunge, Noise

13
1,032 413
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
406 179
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

15
925 657
Mumford & Sons is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Mumford & Sons Pop music, Folk rock, Pop rock

16
584 223
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Black Keys Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

17
625 431
Franz Ferdinand is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Franz Ferdinand New Wave, Rock music, Dance-punk

18
988 353
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
765 354
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
438 346
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
401 308
Sufjan Stevens is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Sufjan Stevens Christian music, Alternative country, Baroque pop

22
510 421
The National is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The National Indie folk, Indie rock

23
442 351
Interpol is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Interpol Alternative rock, Indie rock, Post-punk revival

24
950 420
Two Door Cinema Club is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Two Door Cinema Club Indie pop, Synthpop, New Wave

25
438 140
MGMT is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MGMT Synthpop, New Wave, Dance-punk

26
500 422
Neutral Milk Hotel is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Neutral Milk Hotel Indie pop, Psychedelic folk, Rock music

27
760 420
Bon Iver is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bon Iver Indie, Neo soul, Folk music

28
976 459
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

29
349 108
Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Joy Division Punk rock, Post-punk

30
935 471
Alt-J is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Alt-J Psychedelic folk, Experimental music, Alternative rock

31
896 451
Bastille is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bastille Synthpop, Alternative rock

32
233 208
Wilco is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
WarrenMitchell added Wilco Rock music, Experimental rock, Folk rock

33
972 531
Imagine Dragons is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Imagine Dragons Indie pop, Pop music, Alternative rock

34
340 335
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
553 155
Gorillaz is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Gorillaz Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop

36
420 282
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
306 191
Foals is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Foals Dance-punk, New Prog, Alternative dance

38
714 335
Hozier is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Hozier Indie rock, Folk, Soul

39
467 271
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
510 160
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Oasis Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

41
447 139
The Lumineers is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Whitney Van Laningham added The Lumineers Americana, Folk rock, Alternative rock

42
343 193
Ranker Video
Phoenix Synthpop, New Wave, French rock

43
872 2,262
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Arcana Baroque pop/rock

44
362 118
The xx is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The xx Indie pop, New Wave, Electronic music

45
317 267
Regina Spektor is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
HoserUSC added Regina Spektor Indie pop, Anti-folk, Pop music

46
463 129
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Cure New Wave, Gothic rock, Rock music

47
310 207
Grizzly Bear is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Grizzly Bear Psychedelic folk, Rock music, Psychedelic pop

48
298 266
Bright Eyes is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Bright Eyes Indie pop, Folk music, Emo

49
267 246
Belle & Sebastian is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Belle & Sebastian Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rock music

50
265 244
St. Vincent is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added St. Vincent Indie pop, Downtempo, Folk music