Alternative Music The Best Indie Bands & Artists  

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110.4k votes 10.9k voters 326.7k views 592 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

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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
2,807 1,369
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Trip hop, Dance-punk, Garage rock

2
1,650 976
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Garage rock, Power pop, Alternative rock

3
1,583 874
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

4
1,572 924
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Pop punk, Synthpop, New Wave

5
1,158 455
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Jangle pop, Indie pop, Alternative rock

6
1,198 936
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Alternative rock, Art rock

7
1,105 884
Muse is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Space rock, Rock music, Electronic music

8
1,139 640
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Space rock, Neo-psychedelia, Dream pop

9
1,208 879
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
New Wave, Synthpop, Jazz fusion

10
1,291 744
Florence and the Machine is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Neo soul, Baroque pop, Electronica

11
882 612
Modest Mouse is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Indie pop, Garage rock, Space rock

12
876 433
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Experimental rock, Grunge, Noise

13
1,178 467
Cage the Elephant is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Punk blues, Garage rock, Garage punk

14
526 229
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

15
718 480
Franz Ferdinand is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
New Wave, Rock music, Dance-punk

16
689 271
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

17
1,011 744
Mumford & Sons is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Pop music, Folk rock, Pop rock

18
1,152 412
Foster the People is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Synthpop, Rock music

19
845 400
The Kooks is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
CatalinaEspinoza added Indie pop, Pop music, Rock music

20
502 377
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

21
466 349
Sufjan Stevens is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Christian music, Alternative country, Baroque pop

22
577 459
The National is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie folk, Indie rock

23
503 389
Interpol is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Alternative rock, Indie rock, Post-punk revival

24
535 173
MGMT is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Synthpop, New Wave, Dance-punk

25
547 462
Neutral Milk Hotel is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Indie pop, Psychedelic folk, Rock music