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100 Greatest Indie Rock Bands

Indie rock came into prominence in the 80s paving the way for a new breed of bands from various subgenres in the 90s. Dwell in a detailed perspective on Indie Rock and the best Indie rock bands.

The term ‘indie’ has its roots in the 80s. While the term ‘indie’ is broad-based and attributes to various perspectives of independence, the term comes from the word ‘independent’ referring to bands and artists releasing their music independently on a small budget at hand. Furthermore, the bands belonging to the indie genre in the 80s were known to express different musical styles through their music, and this free form musical experimentation imbibing different musical styles from various genres gives indie rock its unique sound. A number of indie rock music labels mushroomed in the 80s and the trend continued in the 90s. Many indie rock record labels have helped upcoming bands from the post punk and the post grunge/alternative revival to establish firm footing in the music industry by promoting and releasing albums on a low budget.

Indie rock has evolved over the years with the new wave of indie bringing varied aspects lyrically and musically. Towards the late 90s and post 2000 many indie rock bands have achieved mainstream success globally.

Since the 2000s major record companies have tied up with indie record labels to promote and distribute Indie bands and their albums on a larger scale globally. The indie rock phenomenon grew through the alternative and grunge era with many female artists and female bands helping the new wave of indie gain momentum. While indie music does not fall in all things mainstream, many indie rock bands since the 90s have earned mainstream success, thanks to radical music movements being accepted in fragmented culture.

Indie rock bands started making a statement in the 90s with their short song formats incorporating a variety of influences from less popular music genres. Many indie rock bands have become popular performing at college festivals. A large number of indie rock bands have promoted their music through social networks thereby helping reach a global audience of indie enthusiasts. The local indie scene in every country has contributed immensely towards the indie movement become a rage globally. Since the 90s indie music festivals have become a manic rage in the US and Europe. Towards the late 90s indie rock paved the way for indie subgenres, each bringing in a new element to the indie movement. The indie movement helped give birth to emo and other subgenres that have gained momentum since the 2000s.

Indie rock has evolved in every decade since it came into being. While the indie rock movement is relatively new compared with other music genres, the genre has had a significant impact on global audiences, teenagers in particular. In present times Indie rock is one among the biggest underground movements. The cult following indie rock has had over the years is testimony to the fact that this music culture will get bigger in the future. If you are an indie music enthusiast, fasten your seatbelt, the indie tsunami is sure to arrive in the near future.

The list below showcases indie rock bands from the 80s, 90s and 2000s. Deal with a list as a celebration of Indie rock and not a ranking system. Feel free to spew your indie thoughts.

100 Greatest Indie Rock Bands

  1. Pavement
  2. Arctic Monkeys
  3. The Strokes
  4. Built to Spill
  5. Arcade Fire
  6. The Shins
  7. Modest Mouse
  8. Death Cab For Cutie
  9. Belle and Sebastian
  10. Yo La Tengo
  11. The Black Keys
  12. Neutral Milk Hotel
  13. The Killers
  14. Bloc Party
  15. Weezer
  16. Supergrass
  17. Kaiser Chiefs
  18. Frnaz Ferdinand
  19. Pixies
  20. Broken Social Scene
  21. Sonic Youth
  22. Blur
  23. Superchunk
  24. The Vaccines
  25. Vampire Weekend
  26. The Decemberists
  27. Interpol
  28. Editors
  29. Girls
  30. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  31. Beach House
  32. Foster The People
  33. The Kooks
  34. alt-J
  35. Band of Horses
  36. Bright Eyes
  37. The Libertines
  38. Snow Patrol
  39. Grizzly Bear
  40. The National
  41. Cage the Elephant
  42. Florence and the Machine
  43. Spoon
  44. Dr.Dog
  45. The Airborne Toxic Event
  46. Kings of Leon
  47. Two Door Cinema Club
  48. Noah and the Whale
  49. The Fratellis
  50. Sunny Day Real Estate
  51. Portugal. The Man
  52. Imagine Dragons
  53. The Head and the Heart
  54. Dinosaur Jr.
  55. She & Him
  56. Broken Social Scene
  57. Sleater- Kinney
  58. The Antlers
  59. Deer Tick
  60. Wilco
  61. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
  62. The Mountain Goats
  63. Okkervil River     
  64. Fugazi
  65. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
  66. Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah
  67. The Apples In Stereo
  68. Bombay Bicycle Club
  69. Elbow
  70. Cold War Kids
  71. White Lies
  72. Brand New
  73. The Walkmen           
  74. The Faint
  75. Young The Giant
  76. Grouplove
  77. Metric
  78. The Wombats
  79. Walk The Moon
  80. Kasabian
  81. Deerhunter
  82. The Temper Trap
  83. We Are Scientists
  84. Foals
  85. The Kills
  86. The New Pornographers
  87. Ra Ra Riot                                  
  88. The Dismemberment Plan
  89. Girls Against Boys
  90. The Thermals
  91. Minus The Bear
  92. Warpaint
  93. Archers of Loaf
  94. Manchester Orchestra
  95. The Hold Steady
  96. My Morning Jacket
  97. The Fiery Furnaces
  98. Mew         
  99. CSS
  100. The Subways

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Post Your Comment

I used to love the Artic Monkeys and the Kaiser Chiefs - I haven't heard much from either of the bands for a while. I like Florence and the Machine and the Kings of Leon as well.


Your article has reminded me how many great indie bands there are out there, and there's some I hadn't been aware of before, which sound intriguing. I will look some of them up later.

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