Alternative Music The Best Indie Bands & Artists  

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100.2k votes 9.9k voters 301.1k views 583 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
2,572 1,237
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Trip hop, Dance-punk, Garage rock

2
1,508 876
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Garage rock, Power pop, Alternative rock

3
1,385 790
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

4
1,424 821
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Pop punk, Synthpop, New Wave

5
1,087 868
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Alternative rock, Art rock

6
985 410
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Jangle pop, Indie pop, Alternative rock

7
1,000 798
Muse is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Space rock, Rock music, Electronic music

8
990 587
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Space rock, Neo-psychedelia, Dream pop

9
1,107 827
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
New Wave, Synthpop, Jazz fusion

10
1,192 677
Florence and the Machine is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Neo soul, Baroque pop, Electronica

11
803 557
Modest Mouse is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Indie pop, Garage rock, Space rock

12
764 397
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Experimental rock, Grunge, Noise

13
1,054 421
Cage the Elephant is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Punk blues, Garage rock, Garage punk

14
426 186
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

15
640 435
Franz Ferdinand is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
New Wave, Rock music, Dance-punk

16
938 670
Mumford & Sons is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Pop music, Folk rock, Pop rock

17
597 233
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

18
1,006 362
Foster the People is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Synthpop, Rock music

19
779 363
The Kooks is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
CatalinaEspinoza added Indie pop, Pop music, Rock music

20
443 355
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

21
455 358
Interpol is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Alternative rock, Indie rock, Post-punk revival

22
523 429
The National is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie folk, Indie rock

23
410 320
Sufjan Stevens is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Christian music, Alternative country, Baroque pop

24
455 145
MGMT is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Synthpop, New Wave, Dance-punk

25
965 427
Two Door Cinema Club is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Synthpop, New Wave

26
511 431
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
770 430
Bon Iver is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie, Neo soul, Folk music

28
989 469
Of Monsters and Men is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Ska, Folk rock

29
364 115
Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Punk rock, Post-punk

30
950 480
Alt-J is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Psychedelic folk, Experimental music, Alternative rock

31
911 457
Bastille is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Synthpop, Alternative rock

32
243 214
Wilco is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
WarrenMitchell added Rock music, Experimental rock, Folk rock

33
990 546
Imagine Dragons is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Pop music, Alternative rock

34
348 342
The Decemberists is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Indie pop, Rock music, Folk rock

35
572 161
Gorillaz is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop

36
426 289
Band of Horses is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Rock music, Alternative country, Indie rock

37
308 198
Foals is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Dance-punk, New Prog, Alternative dance

38
721 345
Hozier is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Indie rock, Folk, Soul

39
476 276
Snow Patrol is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Post-Britpop, Folk rock, Power pop

40
531 166
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

41
463 145
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
349 197
Ranker Video
Synthpop, New Wave, French rock

43
872 2,269
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Baroque pop/rock

44
487 129
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
New Wave, Gothic rock, Rock music

45
324 274
Regina Spektor is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
HoserUSC added Indie pop, Anti-folk, Pop music

46
369 124
The xx is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, New Wave, Electronic music

47
306 270
Bright Eyes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Indie pop, Folk music, Emo

48
316 215
Grizzly Bear is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Psychedelic folk, Rock music, Psychedelic pop

49
274 251
Belle & Sebastian is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rock music

50
272 249
St. Vincent is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Indie pop, Downtempo, Folk music