Indie The Best Indie Bands & Artists  

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132.6k votes 12.7k voters 367.9k views 597 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 - 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.

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list ordered by
1
3,205 1,689
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arctic Monkeys are an English rock band formed in 2002 in High Green, a suburb of Sheffield. The band consists of Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Nick O'Malley, and Matt Helders. Former band member ...more
2
1,973 1,064
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Phil Selway and Ed O'Brien. Radiohead released ...more
3
1,927 1,201
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Strokes are an American rock band formed in New York City in 1998, consisting of Julian Casablancas, Nick Valensi, Albert Hammond, Jr., Nikolai Fraiture and Fabrizio Moretti. Upon the ...more
4
1,864 1,159
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added
The Killers are an American rock band formed in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2001, by Brandon Flowers and Dave Keuning. Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. would complete the current line-up of the ...more
5
1,456 1,070
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arcade Fire is a Canadian indie rock band based in Montreal, Quebec consisting of husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, along with Win's younger brother Will Butler, Richard ...more
6
1,496 576
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Smiths were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1982. The band consisted of vocalist Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce. Critics have ...more
7
1,440 794
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Tame Impala is the psychedelic recording project of Kevin Parker, from Perth, Australia, and signed to Modular Recordings. The band rose to prominence in 2010 with the release of its debut album ...more
8
1,267 1,107
Muse is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added
Muse are an English rock band from Teignmouth, Devon, formed in 1994. The band consists of Matthew Bellamy, Christopher Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard. They are known for their energetic and ...more
9
1,422 1,051
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Vampire Weekend is an American rock band from New York City, formed in 2006. They are currently signed to XL Recordings. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Ezra Koenig, ...more
10
1,499 913
Florence and the Machine is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Florence and the Machine are an English indie rock band that formed in London in 2007, consisting of lead singer Florence Welch, Isabella Summers, and a collaboration of other artists. The ...more
11
1,048 762
Modest Mouse is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added
Modest Mouse is an American rock band formed in 1993 in Issaquah, Washington, by singer/guitarist Isaac Brock, drummer Jeremiah Green, and bassist Eric Judy. Since the band's 1996 debut album, ...more
12
1,091 552
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added
The Pixies are an American rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986. The group currently consists of founders Black Francis, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering. Co-founder Kim Deal left ...more
13
1,434 610
Cage the Elephant is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Cage the Elephant is an American rock band from Bowling Green, Kentucky, that formed in 2006. The group currently consists of Matthew "Matt" Shultz, Brad "Dave" Shultz, Jared ...more
14
675 187
Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Joy Division were an English rock band formed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester. Originally named Warsaw, the band consisted of singer Ian Curtis, guitarist/keyboardist Bernard Sumner, ...more
15
830 619
Franz Ferdinand is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Franz Ferdinand are a Scottish rock band formed in 2002 and based in Glasgow. The band is composed of Alex Kapranos, Bob Hardy, Nick McCarthy, and Paul Thomson. The band has been nominated for ...more
16
860 396
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Black Keys are an American rock duo formed in Akron, Ohio in 2001. The group consists of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney. The duo began as an independent act, recording music in basements ...more
17
1,147 924
Mumford & Sons is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Mumford & Sons are a British rock band from London, England, formed in 2007. The band consists of Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane. Mumford & Sons have released ...more
18
1,353 550
Foster the People is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Foster the People is an American indie pop band formed in Los Angeles, California in 2009. The group is composed of Mark Foster, Jacob "Cubbie" Fink, and Mark Pontius. The group's ...more
19
619 488
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added
Sonic Youth was an American rock band from New York City, formed in 1981. Their most recent lineup consisted of Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley and Mark Ibold. In their ...more
20
708 338
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry. One of the first popular ...more
21
687 575
The National is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The National is an American rock band from Cincinnati, Ohio, formed in 1999. The band consists of Matt Berninger (vocals), Aaron Dessner (guitar, piano, keyboards), Bryce Dessner (guitar), Scott ...more
22
604 493
Interpol is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Interpol is an American rock band from New York City. Formed in 1997, the band's original line-up consisted of Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler, Carlos Dengler and Greg Drudy. Drudy left the band in ...more
23
936 516
The Kooks is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
CatalinaEspinoza added
The Kooks are a British rock band formed in Brighton, East Sussex, in 2004. The band currently consists of Luke Pritchard, Hugh Harris, Alexis Nunez, and Peter Denton. The original bassist was ...more
24
657 572
Neutral Milk Hotel is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added
Neutral Milk Hotel is an American indie rock band formed by singer, guitarist, and songwriter Jeff Mangum in the late 1980s. The band is noted for its experimental sound, obscure lyrics and ...more
25
1,174 568
Two Door Cinema Club is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Two Door Cinema Club are a Northern Irish indie rock band from Bangor and Donaghadee, County Down, formed in 2007. The band consists of Alex Trimble, Sam Halliday, and Kevin Baird. The band's ...more