Indie bands were ‘created’ if you will in the 1970s. They were usually outside the mainstream and did not use bigger commercial record labels to publish their music. They were dubbed D.I.Y. artists, and the same can be said of the indie musicians today. The indie labels can be nurturing and less focused on the commercial output of their clients. This list may be subjective of course, but we have tried to come up with the most popular indie bands that have made their name in the genre of music.
As an indie artist, depending on how large a following you have, you generally have to promote and market your music yourself and also knowing how best to distribute your music is essential when it comes to people listening to your sound. So who are the best indie bands, let’s find out shall we?
Mumford & Sons
Let’s start with a firm favorite of mine, an example of a British indie band which have been together since 2007. With hits like The Cave, Little Lion Man, I Will Wait, Lover Of The Light, they are showing why alternative indie bands are so popular right now and their music could be said to have a subtle spiritual tone to it. The indie folk band is made up of 4 members, Marcus Mumford, Ted Dwane, and Ben Lovett. Winton Marshall left the band back in 2021. The band released four studio albums: Sigh No More, Babel, Wilder Mind, and Delta. Delta was released back in November 2018, and it was part of their tour by the same name. They started in 16 November 2018 in Dublin, Ireland and their last show before the COVID-19 pandemic was held on 8 March 2020 at Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival.
In terms of English indie bands, they made a significant dent in the music scene in the 80s. Band members were made up of singer Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce. Their music was phenomenal and people went wild for and still to this day their influence on the music industry can never be lessened. They released 4 albums within 4 years, which is quite a feat and their talent made them one of the top indie bands in the UK. Johnny Marr even went on to headline a UK tour back in September of 2021 to the joy of his fans.
Since 2002, this indie pop band of 4 from Sheffield made waves in the UK and went on to create songs with the catchiest lyrics. They released their debut album Beneath The Boardwalk, and it became known as the fastest-selling debut album in UK chart history. Their fans went mad for it. The band is made up of Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Nick O’Malley, and Matt Helders. Andy Nicholson left the band in 2006. They have confirmed 2023 tour dates where they will be joining the band Inhaler through Germany, Scandinavia, France. Their new album ‘The Car’ will be coming out on the 21st of October, which is their 7th album.
Now this may be up for speculation, but this indie rock band might have just been one of the best, and hence why they have made this list. In 1985, in Oxfordshire, 4 men by the names of Thom Yorke, brothers Jonny Greenwood and Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien and Philip Selway formed a band. They had been performing together for over 20 years with hits like Creep and High & Dry when in 2020, they decided to take a year off and they are still not back together. I did see a solo performance by Thom Yorke at the Letters Live concert back in December 2021, but it may not come to pass that you see them all together again as a band. As one of the 90s indie bands, they really made their mark.
Yes there have been some negative aspects of this bands trajectory, but they should still be given some credit as they turned the tide on indie rock bands of the late 90s to the mid 2000s. Would I say that they are one of the best indie rock bands out there? I maybe wouldn’t go so far as to suggest this but their hits, such as ‘Don’t Look Back Into the Sun’ or ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, written by frontmen Carl Barât and Pete Doherty and the band which also included John Hassall, and Gary Powell for some time made them a huge success amongst their fans.
Another indie rock band of the 1990s and early 2000s from Detroit. A duo was made up of Jack and Meg White, and they had hits like ‘My Doorbell’, ‘Blue Orchid’, ‘Seven Nation Army’ and ‘The Hardest Button to Button’. This last song was used during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where it became the unofficial hymn for Italy, the Azzurri. Jack was the songwriter, lead vocalist, on guitar, piano, and the mandolin, whilst Meg was on drums and vocals.
The English indie rock band released four albums and formed in 2004. They all went their separate ways in 2017 but in that time their singles like ‘Toothpaste Kisses’, ‘Marks To Prove It’ and ‘Grew Up At Midnight’ could be considered their best songs. They have an interesting story about how they came up with their band name. So they were flicking through the bible and chose a word at random and from then on, they were known as the Maccabees. Of their 4 albums, ‘Colour It In’ was released in 2007, followed by ‘Wall of Arms’ in 2009, ‘Given to the Wild’ on 9 January 2012 and their last album ‘Marks to Prove It’ was released on 31 July 2015.
I’m sure we have all heard ‘Friday I’m in Love’ – and if you haven’t then do it now, it’s a cracker! This indie rock band with guitarist, lead vocalist, and songwriter Robert Smith as being the only constant member. They formed in 1978 in Crawley, West Sussex. They will be on tour in Europe from this October until early December, so still delighting audiences even after 40 years. With albums like ‘The Head On The Door’, ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ and ‘Wish’ they represent true icons of the indie rock music scene.
The band formed in 1998 and is composed of lead singer and songwriter Julian Casablancas, guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr., bassist Nikolai Fraiture, and drummer Fabrizio Moretti. They released their first album in 2002, ‘Is This It’, and in terms of rock music, nothing was quite the same again. With its guttural sound of twin-guitar interplay, hooks and the melodic tone, it changed how bands made music around the globe. The cover art for this particular album caused some controversy as the first image was a highly sexualised photo, and after some consideration it was changed to the ‘psychedelic photograph of subatomic particle tracks in a bubble chamber’.
Arcade Fire is a Canadian indie rock band based in Montreal, that formed in 2001, consisting of husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, alongside Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara. Their very popular album ‘Everything Now’ is one of my favorite bands and is on tour in the US until early December this year. They played at Glastonbury in 2014 and are one of the alternative indie rock bands to take the world by storm. With hits like ‘Everything Now’,‘Put Your Money On Me’, ‘Reflektor’ and their latest single ‘Unconditional I’, they seem to be a keen favorite for indie fans out there. They even performed ‘End Of The Empire II’ on Saturday Night Live on the 7th of May this year to promote their 6th studio album ‘WE’ which came out the day before on the 6th of May.
Wonderwall surely has to be this band’s most well known song? This English rock band formed in 1991 in Manchester. The original band members were made up of Liam Gallagher, Paul Arthurs, Paul McGuigan and Tony McCarroll, but then they were joined by Noel Gallagher. ‘Wonderwall’ sold 2.4 million copies whereas their second most successful hit was ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ selling 1.8 million copies, which is astronomical back in the early 90s. They were a huge deal in the music scene and even though they broke up in 2009, they are still to this day one of the bands that created so many ‘anthems’ that we instantly feel nostalgic about when listening to them. ‘Roll With It’ and ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ are also popular singles they released during their career.
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It is fair to say that these indie band names are going to be ones that people will remember for a long time and for a good reason. Whether it be folk music or rock, indie music it can really rejuvenate you and I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t be able to live without my dose of Mumford and Sons or The Smiths. There were too many to mention but I hope you agree with my list and have enjoyed reminiscing for a little while. Maybe you’ll turn on Spotify now and type in UK Indie Classics? Happy listening!