Authored by Phil Dotree in Music
Published on 11-06-2009
Indie bands have been around for several decades, and the main artists of the movement have had massive commercial and critical success. The genre combines melodic music with sometimes strange methods of production and presentation. Here’s a look at a few of the best indie bands of all time.
10. The Flaming Lips – This psychedelic band is a great example of modern indie music. Their “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots” was a breakout hit, but they’ve been around for over two decades. The Flaming Lips are incredibly talented and wildly inventive, and one of the best indie bands of the new generation.
9. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The debut album from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is one of the biggest recent indie sensations. It swept through college campuses and sold thousands of copies. This was despite the fact that the band didn’t have a record label. With Talking Heads-inspired vocals, Clap Your Hands has a unique and sometimes near-perfect sound.
8. Sufjan Stevens – Love him or hate him, Sufjan has brought a lot of attention to indie music. His quest to write a different album for every U.S. state seems stalled, but he’s still crafting some quality pensive indie music.
7. Mountain Goats – John Darnell, the Mountain Goats’ frontman, is incredibly literate. That comes through immediately on all of their releases. He crafts intense, sometimes uncomfortably obtuse lyrics over a very simple and basic musical backing. The result is very often brilliant. In particular, the Mountain Goats album “The Sunset Tree” is an absolute classic.
6. Meat Puppets – The Meat Puppets are important because they sound awful. Absolutely terrible. Yet, somehow, they sound amazing, too. They proved that an indie band doesn’t need commercial success to make widely influential music.
5. The Shins – This indie band built up their name with the help of Zach Braff’s Garden State. They’ve had a string of solid releases. The Shins have a unique, ethereal sound, but keep a strong since of melody throughout everything the put out. They jangle like the Beatles, but they’re distinctively indie.
4. The Replacements – The Replacements were the band that should have been. Throughout a few brilliant albums, they could never quite avoid their tendency to be insane, ruining their commercial potential. This makes them a much-loved indie band. Replacements albums like “Let It Be” eventually became hugely influential.
3. Stone Roses – Through only two albums, the Stone Roses left a huge mark on indie music. Their sometimes strange chord progressions and melodies were a new direction for indie music, and they remain a well loved and highly respected indie band.
2. Pavement – Pavement built the lo-fi sound. Their music sounds like someone beat up their amplifiers, and Stephen Malkmus doesn’t really sing so much as speak. The result is a strange high-energy but low quality sound. Pavement’s influence on modern indie music is absolutely enormous.
1. The Pixies – One of the most important and influential bands of all times, the Pixies are also an essential icon of the indie scene. Their albums changed the face of music. “Doolittle,” in particular, was especially important and often cited as a major influence by Kurt Cobain.