Music

The Best Indie Bands & Artists 

Reference
Originally by
Updated Ekim 2, 2019 155k votes 15.2k voters 421.8k views 576 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.

list ordered by
1
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Smiths were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1982. The group consisted of vocalist Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce. Critics have ...more

More The Smiths 

#139 of 285 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #179 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time The Best Smiths Albums of All Time

2
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arctic Monkeys is an English rock band formed in Sheffield in 2002. The group consists of Alex Turner (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Matt Helders (drums, vocals), Jamie Cook (guitar, keyboards) ...more

More Arctic Monkeys 

#191 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #302 of 2.179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time The Best Arctic Monkeys Songs of All Time

3
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Radiohead are an English rock band formed in Abingdon-on-Thames in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), brothers Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, ...more

More Radiohead 

#1.024 of 1.038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time #69 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time The Best Radiohead Songs of All Time

4
Cage the Elephant is listed (or ranked) 4 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

More Cage the Elephant 

#766 of 1.038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time #326 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time The Best Cage The Elephant Songs

5
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 5 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

More The Strokes 

#591 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #236 of 2.179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time The Best Strokes Songs of All Time

6
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 6 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

More Tame Impala 

#139 of 319 The Best Bands With Animal Names The Best Tame Impala Albums, Rankedlisted on List of Famous Bands from Australia

7
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 7 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

More Pixies 

#974 of 1.038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time #160 of 221 Bands/Artists With Only One Great Album The Best Pixies Albums of All-Time

8
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Cure is an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex in 1976. The band members have changed several times, with guitarist, lead vocalist, and songwriter Robert Smith the only constant ...more

More The Cure 

#20 of 502 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s #17 of 285 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame A Timeline Of Robert Smith's Beef With Morrissey

9
Foster the People is listed (or ranked) 9 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

More Foster the People 

#1.020 of 2.179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #20 of 23 The Best Band Name Origins Stories

10
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 10 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 members Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboards, bass) and Dave Keuning (lead guitar, backing vocals). Mark Stoermer ...more

More The Killers 

#168 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #148 of 620 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time The Best Killers Songs of All Time

11
Florence and the Machine... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Florence and the Machine (stylised as Florence + the Machine) are an English indie rock band that formed in London in 2007, consisting of vocalist Florence Welch, keyboardist Isabella Summers, ...more

More Florence and the Machine 

#795 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #77 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers The Best Florence and the Machine Albums, Ranked

12
Two Door Cinema Club is listed (or ranked) 12 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

More Two Door Cinema Club 

#1.013 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #1.670 of 2.179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time The Best Two Door Cinema Club Albums, Ranked

13
Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Joy Division were an English rock band formed in Salford in 1976. The group consisted of vocalist Ian Curtis, guitarist/keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris. ...more

More Joy Division 

#45 of 285 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #142 of 2.179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time The Best Joy Division Albums of All Time

14
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist/backing vocalist Mike Mills, and lead vocalist Michael Stipe. One of ...more

More R.E.M. 

#28 of 502 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s #124 of 2.179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

15
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
The Black Keys is an American rock band formed in Akron, Ohio, in 2001. The group consists of Dan Auerbach (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums). The duo began as an independent act, ...more

More The Black Keys 

#305 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #562 of 529 Things That Are Not As Cool As People Think They Are The Best Black Keys Songs

16
Gorillaz is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Gorillaz are a British virtual band created in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett. The band primarily consists of four animated members: Stuart "2-D" Pot, Murdoc ...more

More Gorillaz 

#23 of 319 The Best Bands With Animal Names #129 of 561 The Most Hipster Bands The Best Gorillaz Songs of All Time

17
Of Monsters and Men is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Of Monsters and Men is a five-member, English-language indie folk-pop band from Iceland, formed in 2010. The members are lead singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, ...more

More Of Monsters and Men 

#792 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #75 of 561 The Most Hipster Bands #14 of 230 The Very Best Indie Pop Bands & Artists

18
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Arcade Fire is a Canadian indie rock band, consisting of husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, along with Win's younger brother William Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim ...more

More Arcade Fire 

#263 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #239 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers All Arcade Fire Songs: Ranked Best to Worst

19
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Oasis were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1991. Developed from an earlier group, the Rain, the band originally consisted of Liam Gallagher (lead vocals, tambourine), Paul ...more

More Oasis 

#531 of 1.038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time The Best Oasis Songs of All Timelisted on The Best English Boy Bands

20
Bon Iver is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bon Iver () is an American indie folk band founded in 2006 by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. Vernon released Bon Iver's debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, independently in July 2007. The ...more

More Bon Iver 

#274 of 1.038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time #31 of 58 All the Best New Artist Grammy Winners, Ranked The Best Bon Iver Songs

21
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 21 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

More Vampire Weekend 

#302 of 1.038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time #1.062 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time The Best Vampire Weekend Albums, Ranked

22
Bastille is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Bastille are an English indie rock band formed in 2010. They began as a solo project by singer-songwriter Dan Smith, who later decided to form a band. The four-piece is completed by Chris ...more

More Bastille 

#164 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers #21 of 230 The Very Best Indie Pop Bands & Artists

23
Modest Mouse is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added
Modest Mouse is an American rock band formed in 1992 in Issaquah, Washington and currently based in Portland, Oregon. The founding members are lead singer/guitarist Isaac Brock, drummer Jeremiah ...more

More Modest Mouse 

#783 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #1.050 of 2.179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time The Best Modest Mouse Albums List

24
The Kooks is listed (or ranked) 24 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

More The Kooks 

#681 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #19 of 36 The Best Bands Named After Songs The Best The Kooks Albums, Ranked

25
Alt-J is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
alt-J is an English indie rock band formed in 2007 in Leeds, England, by Gwil Sainsbury, Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton and Thom Green. The band's debut album An Awesome Wave was released in May ...more

More Alt-J 

#1.728 of 2.211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #29 of 561 The Most Hipster Bands