Music
16.8k voters

The Best Indie Bands & Artists

Updated October 2, 2019 189.3k votes 16.8k voters 464.2k views543 items

List RulesBands 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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  • 1
    The Smiths
    2,524
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    The Smiths were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1982. The group consisted of... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 2
    The Cure
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  • 3
    Joy Division
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  • 4
    Radiohead
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  • 5
    Pixies
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  • 6
    R.E.M.
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  • 7
    Oasis
    1,453
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  • 8
    Blur
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  • 9
    Arctic Monkeys
    4,300
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  • 10
    Cage the Elephant
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  • 11
    The Strokes
    2,741
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  • 12
    Tame Impala
    2,298
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  • 13
    Gorillaz
    1,420
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  • 14
    Foster the People
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  • 15
    MGMT
    1,119
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  • 16
    The Black Keys
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  • 17
    The Shins
    478
    196
    The Shins are an American indie rock band formed in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1996. The... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 18
    Death Cab for Cutie
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  • 19
    The Stone Roses
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  • 20
    Florence and the Machine
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  • 21
    Bon Iver
    1,126
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  • 22
    The Killers
    2,541
    1,615
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  • 23
    Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
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  • 24
    Yeah Yeah Yeahs
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  • 25
    LCD Soundsystem
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