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Best Indie Bands

Tulika Nair Nov 3, 2018
How do you make a list of the top indie bands? It is a difficult task because everyone has a subjective taste in music. Here is our attempt at listing out the best indie bands ever.
Have you wondered how some bands manage to release music that sounds truer to what they stand for and does not sound like it has been produced to target mass appeal and achieve commercial success? If yes, then those are indie bands, bands that release their music independently without enjoying the backing of any major record label.
While not having the resources that a major record label has, an indie band has the freedom to experiment and target an audience that they know will enjoy their kind of music.

Top 10 Indie Bands

There are many good indie bands but there are some that have stood out in the music crowd, establishing themselves as the royalty of the indie band world. Here is a subjective list of the top bands and their five best songs according to us.

Arcade Fire

An indie rock band from Montreal, Canada, Arcade Fire is one of the most popular bands to have come out of Canada. Fronting the band are the wife-husband duo of Regine Chassagne and Win Butler. The band boasts of an instrument line up that any other band would be envious of.
Members of the band, apart from playing the guitar, drums and bass, also play the violin, cello, piano, xylophone, mandolin, harp, and many other musical instruments. Funeral, the album that the band released in 2004, has been widely acclaimed as one of the best indie rock albums of the decade.
Being awarded the Grammy once and the Juno six times for their musical talents the, band is definitely one of the best indie alternative bands. 

Popular For:

♫ No Cars Go
♫ Rebellion (Lies)
♫ Intervention
♫ Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
♫ Wake Up

Arctic Monkeys

Definitely one of the best indie rock bands, Arctic Monkeys is made up of four members, Alex Turner on vocals, Jamie Cook on lead guitar, Nick O'Malley playing bass, and Matt Helders as the backing vocalist and on drums.
Widely recognized for being one of the first bands to not have a direct promotion campaign and instead popularizing themselves by putting up uploads on fan websites. Arctic Monkeys makes music that often has lyrics that are in fact a social commentary.
Their debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not is in fact till date the fastest selling debut album for a UK band.

Popular For:

♫ When The Sun Goes Down
♫ Still Take You Home
♫ Leave Before The Lights Come On
♫ I Bet that You Look Good on the Dance Floor
♫ A Certain Romance

Death Cab for Cutie

Popularized by their tracks playing as background score for shows like The O.C. and Six Feet Under, Death Cab for Cutie is a definite on any list of the best independent bands. An American band from Bellingham, Washington, that began as a one man band, it has four members today and till date the band has released one demo, five EPs, and six studio albums.
All of their albums have been well received, especially Transatlanticism and Plans, the latter receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album. Of course, it doesn't hurt their popularity that lead vocalist Ben Gibbard is married to one of the royals of the indie film scene Zooey Deschanel.
Popular For:

♫Title and Registration
♫ I Will Follow You Into The Dark
♫ Why You'd Want to Live Here
♫ The Sound of Settling
♫ Different Names for the Same Thing

Modest Mouse

Along with Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse is a favorite with most followers of the indie scene and finds itself on most lists. Formed in Seattle, the band has six members, Isaac Brock, Jim Fairchild, Eric Judy, Jeremiah Green, Joe Plummer, and Tom Peloso.
It has been one of the main bands responsible for the popularity that indie bands enjoy today, selling more than three million records. Their name is derived from a story by Virginia Woolf, The Mark on the Wall.
More specifically, the passage is - "I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest, mouse-colored people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises."
Popular For:

♫ Bury Me With It
♫ Tundra Desert
♫ Bankrupt On Selling
♫ A Different City
♫ Breakthrough


The O.C. has been responsible for the popularization of many indie bands and Spoon is another of those bands, despite having been around since 1993. Formed in Austin, Texas, Spoon is made up of Britt Daniel on vocals, Rob Pope on bass, Eric Harvey on guitar, keyboard, and Jim Eno on drums. 
In the year 2009, Metacritic, dubbed Spoon as the best overall indie band in the last decade, based on their consistently good performance in the last ten years or so

Popular For:

♫ The Way We Get By
♫ Metal Detektor
♫ The Beast and Dragon, Adored
♫ Me and the Bean
♫ The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine

Sonic Youth

Formed in 1981, Sonic Youth, is currently formed of band members, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranadlo, Steve Shelley, and Mark Ibold. Having experienced both critical acclaim and popularity among fans, Sonic Youth is considered to be one of the best indie alternative bands that is responsible for the popularity of alternative music as experienced today.
Popular For:

♫ Shadow of a Doubt
♫ Pattern Recognition
♫ The Empty Page
♫ Incinerate
♫ What We Know

Tegan and Sara

Any list of the best indie rock bands, would be incomplete without the Quin twins, Tegan and Sara. They released their debut album in the year 1999 and have developed an extremely devoted fan base since. They take turns writing and singing the songs and both play the guitar and the keyboard.
They have been nominated for four Juno awards including one for their last release Sainthood, that was nominated for the best alternative album.

Popular For:

♫ Don't Confess
♫ The Con My Number
♫ Where Does the Good Go
♫ Call It Off

The Decemberists

Fronted by Colin Meloy, The Decemberists are an indie rock band from Portland, Oregon. The band releases a wide variety of music from pop to ballads. Their songs have a storytelling touch to them. The band was founded in 2000 and likes to maintain that the band members met each other in a Turkish bath.
The first full record released by the band was Castaways and Cutouts.

Popular For:

♫ O Valencia
♫ Odalisque
♫ July, July!
♫ Valerie Plame
♫ We Both Go Down Together

The New Pornographers

Most people assume that the name of the band is a reference to the Jimmy Swaggart saying, "Rock and roll was the new pornography," but the band's name has more modest origins; a reference to a Japanese movie called The Pornographers, that the vocalist Carl Newman watched once.
One of the best indie pop bands, there is nothing modest about the music of the band. Every album that the band has released has received exceptional reviews. The top 40 list of Pazz and Jop released by The Village always had an album by the band or a solo album by one of the band members between the years 2000 and 2006.
The New Pornographers definitely remains one of the best bands of the indie genre and of the decade to have come out of Canada.

Popular For:

♫ Your Hands (Together)
♫ Adventures in Solitude
♫ The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism
♫ The New Face of Zero and One
♫ The Electric Version

The Kills

Put together an American vocalist/guitarist, a British guitarist and a drum machine to replace the drummer and what you get is, The Kills, one of the better indies bands of today.
Wide critical acclaim has greeted the duo of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince, every time they have released a studio album, of which there have been very few, with only four albums released in a decade of their existence.The last album titled, Blood Pressures, was released in early 2011.
Popular For:

♫ Cat Claw
♫ The Good Ones
♫ Love Is a Deserter
♫ Black Rooster
♫ Rodeo Town
Some of the newer indie bands may not have been listed here. Though hopefully, this list will meet the approval of many of you indie music fanatics.