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Best Indie Rock Bands

Pitchfork's best indie rock bands have nothing on these giants!

By Skunk UzekiPublished 7 years ago 6 min read

We're pretty sure that VH1 has done at least one list ranking the best indie rock bands of all time. Indie rock has been around for longer than hipsters have been in Brooklyn, and the fact is that many of the biggest movements in music were sparked by good indie rock bands and their unique sounds.

Pitchfork Records has long been known as the de facto record label of most indie rock bands since the early aughts. That being said, the best indie rock bands of all time rarely had Pitchfork contracts. Even though they were independent, they still ended up becoming household names - and eventually all moved mainstream.

Though they may have started off indie, many of these bands became major names in the music industry. Perhaps that's why they're the best indie rock bands of all time. Do you see any of your favorites on this list?

If you were a legit goth back in the 90s, you loved The Smiths. This British band was infamous for their dreary lyrics (contrasting their often oddly cheery tunes), and the very intellectual, stark streak to music in a time when commercialism, disco, and glitz was de rigeur.

Nowadays, The Smiths is a band that is known for being one of the real masterpiece-making groups of the 80s, up until the lead singer's untimely death. As a result of their incredible contribution to music, we have to vote The Smiths as one of the best indie rock bands of all time.

Favorite Songs: "How Soon Is Now?","Bigmouth Strikes Again," "Still Ill"

Beck is infamous for a number of reasons. The sole musician of this one-man band, also known as "Beck," is famous for being raised Scientologist. He's also known for making a number of stoner hits, having folksy anti-folk songs, and just basically being the face of indie rock in the 90s.

He produced his own music, was known to play coffeehouses before he became famous for his "slacker anthem" called "Loser," and was one of the first indie rock artists to get people thinking about producing their own music. As result, Beck is one of the best indie rock bands ever.

Favorite Songs: "Loser," "Devil's Haircut," "Where It's At"

Peaches is a one-woman band that has been pretty popular, but never quite hit mainstream glory, unlike most of the other bands on this list. That being said, solo band member Merrill Beth Nisker, went from being an English teacher to one of the wildest electroclash musicians ever to make radio waves.

Since the start, she's released a number of albums which have had hits. She's starred alongside Iggy Pop and fellow indie rock band Feist. Need we say anymore?

Of all bands indie, Peaches might be the hardest to define. She's a bit pop, a bit dance, a bit rock, and a bit...something else. No matter what musical genre you'd put Peaches in, it's clear that this one-woman band definitely earned her rep as one of the best indie rock bands that actually still keeps it indie.

Favorite Songs: "Teaches of Peaches," "Kick It," "Set It Off"

A little bit psychedelic and a lotta bit awesome, The Flaming Lips is one of those indie rock bands that has been categorized under a myriad of different genres though its tenure in the music industry. The group's deep love of all things weird and kooky quickly made them (in)famous around the OKC rock scene.

Nowadays, they're known for bringing weird into indie rock, and their influence alone makes them one of the best indie rock bands to come out of the 80s.

Favorite Songs: "Do You Realize??", "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," "She Don't Use Jelly (Vaseline)"

Yes, we may be biased, but the band that was made from the remainder of The Smiths is also one of the best indie rock bands of all time. Unlike The Smiths, New Order had a more electronic, danceable set of tracks - but they absolutely kept the smart lyrics, emotion, and genius in their music.

Few bands rock the way that New Order does, and in fact, they're still a regularly played group at goth clubs - 30 years after they joined together. Most indie rock groups can't ever say that.

Favorite Songs: "Bizarre Love Triangle," "True Faith," "Blue Monday"

Modest Mouse definitely earned their ranks as one of the best indie rock bands from the 2000s. Their folksy, often hard to understand lyrics became instantly recognizable after hits like "Float On."

Between the emotional music they made, the folksy vibes they offered, and their personal style, it comes as no surprise that many people see Modest Mouse as a major "hipster influence" during the early 00s. The band also became almost synonymous with early emo music scenesters at one point, too.

That being said, Modest Mouse has stayed together as an indie rock band since 1992 - so they definitely earned every drop of success they got.

Favorite Songs: "Float On," "Dashboard," "Missed The Boat"

The White Stripes, prior to becoming an incredibly popular mainstream band in the 00s, was a Detroit-born indie rock band that had a lot of people wondering about the relationship of the two band players.

The married duo, Jack and Meg White, initially told booking agents they were siblings so they wouldn't get too much flak for being a married couple. Even when people found out they weren't siblings after tabloids leaked their divorce, the two stuck together to make some of the best music to hit airwaves.

Between their dedication to the music and the catchy rock riffs, we have to say that The White Stripes are one of the best indie rock bands out there.

Favorite Songs: "Seven Nation Army," "Fell In Love With A Girl," "Icky Thump"

Relatively new compared to many of these indie rock bands is TV On The Radio. This group, which is based out of Brooklyn, has become highly regarded for their eclectic music style, their unique music videos, and for just having a sound all their own.

As of right now, they're considered to be one of the best indie rock bands to come out of Brooklyn in a while – and we can see why. Their heavily ambient music has been featured on television shows, and their concerts are often packed.

Favorite Songs: "Staring At The Sun," "Wolf Like Me," "Cannonball Blues"

Grungy, psychedelic, and punky, The Pixies was one of those indie rock bands that flew in the face of the "squeaky clean, commercialized" 80s music industry. It's really hard to define the Pixies as a whole - but let's just leave it at the fact that they make music that makes people think.

Existential surfer rock? Maybe. It all depends on who you ask. The Pixies has a different vibe to every person, it seems. Maybe that's why they're one of the best indie rock bands to ever make it big?

Favorite Songs: "Where Is My Mind?", "Here Comes Your Man," "I Bleed"


About the Creator

Skunk Uzeki

Skunk Uzeki is an androgynous pothead and a hard partier. When they aren't drinking and causing trouble, they're writing articles about the fun times they have.

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