Alternative Music The Best Indie Bands & Artists  

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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
2,728 1,333
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Trip hop, Dance-punk, Garage rock

2
1,605 944
The Strokes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Garage rock, Power pop, Alternative rock

3
1,522 845
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

4
1,526 883
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Pop punk, Synthpop, New Wave

5
1,109 438
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Jangle pop, Indie pop, Alternative rock

6
1,166 912
Arcade Fire is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Alternative rock, Art rock

7
1,072 852
Muse is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Space rock, Rock music, Electronic music

8
1,093 619
Tame Impala is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Space rock, Neo-psychedelia, Dream pop

9
1,174 864
Vampire Weekend is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
New Wave, Synthpop, Jazz fusion

10
1,256 721
Florence and the Machine is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Neo soul, Baroque pop, Electronica

11
855 595
Modest Mouse is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Indie pop, Garage rock, Space rock

12
845 420
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Experimental rock, Grunge, Noise

13
1,136 454
Cage the Elephant is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Punk blues, Garage rock, Garage punk

14
497 214
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

15
695 463
Franz Ferdinand is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
New Wave, Rock music, Dance-punk

16
661 255
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

17
993 716
Mumford & Sons is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Pop music, Folk rock, Pop rock

18
1,113 394
Foster the People is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Synthpop, Rock music

19
825 383
The Kooks is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
CatalinaEspinoza added Indie pop, Pop music, Rock music

20
481 365
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
muzziac added Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

21
452 336
Sufjan Stevens is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Christian music, Alternative country, Baroque pop

22
491 375
Interpol is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Alternative rock, Indie rock, Post-punk revival

23
562 448
The National is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie folk, Indie rock

24
510 163
MGMT is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Synthpop, New Wave, Dance-punk

25
1,030 447
Two Door Cinema Club is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Synthpop, New Wave

26
420 123
Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Punk rock, Post-punk

27
534 452
Neutral Milk Hotel is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Indie pop, Psychedelic folk, Rock music

28
813 450
Bon Iver is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie, Neo soul, Folk music

29
1,044 485
Of Monsters and Men is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Ska, Folk rock

30
1,002 501
Alt-J is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Psychedelic folk, Experimental music, Alternative rock

31
971 487
Bastille is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Synthpop, Alternative rock

32
260 225
Wilco is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
WarrenMitchell added Rock music, Experimental rock, Folk rock

33
366 355
The Decemberists is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Indie pop, Rock music, Folk rock

34
1,068 598
Imagine Dragons is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, Pop music, Alternative rock

35
651 176
Gorillaz is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop

36
337 210
Foals is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Dance-punk, New Prog, Alternative dance

37
441 300
Band of Horses is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Rock music, Alternative country, Indie rock

38
607 185
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

39
767 363
Hozier is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
ShaneBird added Indie rock, Folk, Soul

40
509 293
Snow Patrol is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
MarioArley added Post-Britpop, Folk rock, Power pop

41
379 207
Ranker Video
Synthpop, New Wave, French rock

42
513 159
The Lumineers is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Whitney Van Laningham added Americana, Folk rock, Alternative rock

43
875 2,283
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Baroque pop/rock

44
547 135
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
New Wave, Gothic rock, Rock music

45
334 282
Regina Spektor is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
HoserUSC added Indie pop, Anti-folk, Pop music

46
399 134
The xx is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Indie pop, New Wave, Electronic music

47
319 278
Bright Eyes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Elise Hennigan added Indie pop, Folk music, Emo

48
336 223
Grizzly Bear is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Psychedelic folk, Rock music, Psychedelic pop

49
288 256
St. Vincent is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
eveholt3141 added Indie pop, Downtempo, Folk music

50
286 259
Belle & Sebastian is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Indie Bands & Artists
Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rock music