Popular Alternative-Indie Artists – Top 30 Bends You Should Listen To

Music is one of the most popular forms of entertainment out there, and it’s not hard to see why. From soulful ballads to catchy hooks, there’s something for everyone. But what about the artists who don’t fit within the mainstream? These are the alternative-indie artists, and they’re some of the most interesting and innovative musicians out there.

Where there is a mainstream, there is always an alternative – a counterculture. Crystallizing around the punk movement of the 70s, the Indie culture evolved in the 80’s and was mostly based around independent record companies, releasing music to fulfill their artistic vision, rather than aim for the top of the charts.

With bands like REM, Nirvana, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alternative became the buzzword of the early 90s, with former marginalized bands going on to sell millions of copies and become MTV sensations. Those days may be over, however, the sound of indie pop and alternative rock lives on with countless artists, still pushing the music forward.


30 Seconds To Mars:

30 Seconds to Mars is a band that has included the modern sounds of rock that range from screamo to acoustical tracks in their international career.

Although the group started with a modest first album in 2002 they have gone on to build a broad transcontinental following that fill venues around the world.

2. Anberlin:

Through the series of changes that brought Anberlin into the alternative rock spotlight the core members of the band have kept their faith and continue to make a difference in the lives of the individuals they interact with.

Considered an alternative rock and a Christian group at the same time are due to the positive messages in the lyrics of their songs.

3. AudioSlave:

In true supergroup fashion AudioSlave was an assemblage of musicians that had already become famous before coming together.

In 2001 when former Rage Against the Machine lead guitarist Tom Morello, drummer Brad Wilk and bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, were looking for a lead singer and Chris Cornell, the former rhythm guitarist/frontman for Soundgarden jammed with them the chemistry was immediate and powerful.

4. Bad Religion:

Bad Religion

Many musical acts can say that they were inspired by a genre or an era. Few can do as Bad Religion does and claim that they were the ones who influenced a genre or era.

The band, with almost three decades of music and several line-ups behind them, has certainly gone through its fair share of changes in the music scene.

Time, troubles and tensions, however, are yet to keep this musical institution from the punk rock stage.

5. Coldplay:


Based in Europe, their music has traveled to the point that everyone loves the songs that they have created. Who ever knew that four guys could come together to bring you some real in depth songs that speak truth and reaches out to how many feel?

They were totally different, but you wouldn’t think that this band has anything not in common the way they perform and travel together.

6. Nine Inch Nails:

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails, a rock alternative group, is a classic to many Americans. You just can’t beat their style.

Born out of the state of Ohio, many people love the work that was started by one artist. Nine Inch Nails, otherwise known as NIN has come far to get to where it is today and it was due to one man.

7. Nirvana:


Nirvana, the offshoot punk and alternative rock band labeled as grunge rock by the media and press; was founded in 1987 in Aberdeen, Washington.

Many critics agree that Nirvana is the flagship band of Generation X. Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic shared a common interest. They were fans of ‘The Melvins’. They both had the ambition to form a band. Forming it was a mammoth effort and they had a couple of false starts.

8. Oasis:


Oasis was an English alternative rock band that formed in Manchester in 1991 and continued to perform through 2009. Name changes are nothing new to the band.

The original group consisted of Liam Gallagher, Paul Arthurs, Paul McGuigan and Tony McCarroll and they called themselves The Rain.

9. Soundgarden:


Grunge, aka the Seattle Sound, from the mid 80’s is defined by the heavy distorted musical contrasts, ‘grungy’ appearance of the band members, and heavy intense, anxious, and strife filled lyrics that were particularly inspired by the subculture subscribing to hardcore, heavy metal, indie, and punk rock.

10. No Doubt:

No Doubt

More than once timing gave No Doubt their biggest challenges. Suicide, no-show musicians and the mercurial nature of music fads have all played a part in the group’s bumpy road to success.

Over twenty three years there have been many stops, starts and delays for this two time Grammy Award winning band.

11. Bush:


There’s a standard path for most music acts. After forming, they do a few demos, build up a fan base in their local area and then hunt for the nearest record label to sign them.

Not many take the route of Bush, which sought greener contractual pastures abroad before making it big back home. The roundabout paid off in the end, though, if their ten-year career is anything to go on.

12. Counting Crows:

Counting Crows

Longevity is not a common trait in the music industry, but it’s appreciated where it can be found. Counting Crows definitely counts as one of the most long-lasting in the biz, with almost two decades of music and performances to their credit.

Whether it’s their unique sound or even more unique approach to their fans and performances, this is one band that’s certainly has something going right.

13. Deftones:


In 1989, when high school friends Stephen Carpenter, Abe Cunningham and Chino Moreno began jamming, Deftones was born. They began playing local gigs shortly after, but they soon hit the road and built their following in Los Angeles, Reno, and the Bay Area.

They built a following through extensive touring, internet promotions and word-of-mouth advertising.

14. Everclear:


Most artists are happy with getting even a single song on the charts or the airwaves. By comparison, Everclear must be one of the happiest groups around, what with a string of hits and almost two decades of recording history under its belt.

It’d be hard to point out exactly why the group has persisted for so long. Then again, it’s a question that not many bother to ask.

15. Jimmy Eat World:

Jimmy Eat World

The alternative genre is one of the more contentious categories in music.

Critics rarely agree on what would constitute an ‘alternative’ track, and some go as far as to say that it’s a style that died out in the 90’s. Jimmy Eat World, therefore, has performed quite a feat by maintaining its alternative rock label for over a decade and a half. And from the looks of it, they don’t plan to give up their seat in the world of alternative rock any time soon.

16. Less Than Jake:

Less Than Jake

Music is an industry that thrives on change, which is probably why Less Than Jake is so successful.

Despite starting out with a particular label of genre, the sound and the group itself slowly changed and morphed through the years into something that’s completely different in every way from Point A. Every way, that is, except in their attitude.

17. Modest Mouse:

Modest Mouse

This band has been part of the commercialization of indie rock with the mainstream acceptance of their three studio albums and two EP’s Modest Mouse has released since 2000.

Their first album went gold and the second achieved platinum status before sales passed the three million mark.

18. Muse:


Muse, the trio is from a small town called Teignmouth, Devon. The band has Mathew Bellamy as its lead vocalist, guitarist and pianist. Their bass guitarist is Chris Wolstepholme and the drummer is Dominic Howard.

19. New Found Glory:

New Found Glory

Founders Jordan Pundik and Steve Klein became friends while both attended high school in Coral Springs, Florida and working together at Red Lobster.

In 1997 they began writing music together, recruiting friend and former band-mate from Inner City Kids, Ian Grushka, Joe Moreno, and Chad Gilbert to join the newly named A New Found Glory.

20. Primus:


A certain level of pretense is typically assumed for any band of even marginal success, but this is exactly the kind of image that Primus has tried – successfully- to avoid.

Even with their meteoric rise in the early and mid-90’s rock scene, the group has maintained a low profile and a down-to-earth reputation with fans. They’ve even gone so far as to deny playing songs that earned them a huge amount of fame.

21. Suicidal Tendencies:

Suicidal Tendencies

The band is said to be one of the pioneers of crossover thrash. The group has released a number of albums throughout their career as well as many compilation albums as well.

The group would rise to fame in early of 1983 and they would go on to produce what is said to be the first hardcore punk rock video of all time. They would ride the album and video for many years, finally coming back in the late 1980’s with a follow up album to their first record debut.

22. Switchfoot:


Christian music, alternative rock, pop – bands are most often supposed to stick to just one of those categories. But for most of its history, Switchfoot has been crossing and even transcending those classifications.

Youth-friendly Christian music, pop-melody alt rock and other such cross-overs are their specialty, mixed in with the energy for which their concerts are known.

23. Tegan and Sara:

Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara would become one of the youngest duet groups of the present with their soft style, appealing to a wide range of audiences. The two would both be born in Calgary Canada and attend the same high school, where they would record their first two EP’s.

In their school’s recording studio, the two would make their first demos and begin their music careers that would take them around the world playing for audience of almost every culture and every age.

From their first win on the Garage Warz competition, they would use the opportunity to record their first full length studio album, which would be quite a step above their high school recording studio.

24. The Cranberries:

The Cranberries

Two brothers born in the city of Limerick Ireland would form the group called The Cranberries in 1990 after securing a drummer by the name of Fergal Lawler.

Originally, the group was to be called The Cranberry Saw Us but would eventually shorten the name to what was called The Cranberries. They would bring in a female singer named Dolores O’Riordan.

25. The Cult:

The Cult

The group that would be known to the world as The Cult would form in the city of Monmouth in the province of Wales in the year of 1984. They would release their first album shortly after forming and would not look back as they took the rock n’ roll community and world by storm.

The group would go on to be one of the legendary groups of the 1980’s in the category of rock n’ roll and still have many of their songs played to this day on classic and hard rock radio stations.

26. Wilco:


The group who call themselves Wilco, would form in the mid 1990’s after the break of an alternative rock band called Uncle Tupelo. The group would form to create a multi categorical sound although they would end up becoming popular as a college band to most.

They would gain many loyal and young fans across the nation who would fill venues to see them play and many would go on to buy their records.

27. Yeah Yeah Yeahs:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Terms like ‘indie rock’ and ‘art punk’ usually come straddled with expectations: weird hairdos, weirder outfits and indescribable music. It’s the expectations like those that make Yeah Yeah Yeahs an even bigger find for the independent music scene.

The group toes a fine line with a signature off-kilter sound that nonetheless manages to be just as marketable to the mainstream audience. Whatever it is, it’s a killer combination.

28. Blink-182:


Blink-182 started out as Tom DeLonge was expelled from Poway High School and began to attend Rancho Bernardo High School; he became friends with Anne Hoppus.

He expressed to her how much he wanted to be in a band, so she introduced him to her brother Mark, who also wished to play in a band. The two of them would play for hours sharing the songs they had written and wrote new songs together including “Carousel”. In 1992, they decided that it was time to officially put up a band

29. Dashboard Confessional:

Dashboard Confessional

The founder of Dashboard Confessional, Chris Carrabba, was born in New Jersey on April 10, 1975. When he was 16 they moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where he started his career as the original vocalist with Further Seems Forever, and lead for The Vacant Andys.

30. Story Of The Year:

Story Of The Year

The group who refer to themselves as Story of the Year were founded in 1995 in the city of St. Louis Missouri. They would record many demos and pay their dues as a local rock n’ roll group until finally gaining success later down the road.

The group has tagged themselves as indie rock and sometimes alternative but some say that they are more mainstream than anything else.

If you’re interested in finding out more music and artists that you can jam to, maybe take some time and read about the top best take me back love songs.

Alternative-indie music is an eclectic mix of styles and sounds, with artists spanning a wide range of genres. Some alternative-indie artists sing pop songs with surprising twists or heavy metal with acoustic instruments. Whatever the style, these artists have something new and different to offer listeners.

Quick Backstory

Alternative-Indie artists began to emerge in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s as a reaction against mainstream music. They rejected the commercialism, artificial sound, and manufactured imagery of mainstream music in favor of more authentically personal expressions.

Some of the earliest alternative-indie artists were regional independents like Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr., and The Replacements. These bands played hard-hitting rock with political lyrics that reflected the angst and disillusionment of their young fans.

As alternative-indie musicians assimilated into major labels, they began to develop a more commercial sound. At the same time, electronic dance music (EDM) became increasingly popular, leading many alternative-indie artists to experiment with electronic rhythms and synthesizers.

Alternative-Indie artists continue to create innovative music that reflects the shifting currents of contemporary culture. Their influence can be heard in contemporary indie rock, post-hardcore, electronica, and hip-hop.


1. When was alternative/indie most popular?

Alternative music was most popular in the early 1990s. Back then, it was a way to differentiate yourself from mainstream music. Indie music is also associated with grunge, which was popular in the late 80s and early 90s.

Alternative music became less popular in the 2000s because it was no longer new or different enough. However, alternative music has made a comeback in recent years and is now more popular than ever.

2. What makes an artist indie?

An artist’s independence is the most defining aspect of being indie. It’s not about how much money they make, what genre they play, or even how popular they are. Indie artists are often contrarian and experimental, working outside of the mainstream to push the envelope and create art that isn’t spoon-fed to them.

Independent artists often have to hustle harder than their commercial counterparts to make a living. They may sacrifice opportunities for fame and fortune in favor of creating their own path and doing what they believe in. There’s also a sense of community among indie artists, who support one another and help each other out when needed.

3. Who is the father of indie?

John Cassavetes is widely considered to be the father of indie music. He was a film director and writer who was largely ignored during his lifetime, but is now recognized as one of the most important filmmakers of the 20th century.

4. Where is indie music most popular?

According to a study by music streaming service Spotify, indie music is most popular in the United States. The report found that indie music accounts for 29 percent of all listening on Spotify, and that the genre is especially popular among millennials.

In Canada, indie music is also prominent. The Canadian independent record label Nettwerk reported that as of February 2017, indie music accounted for 31 percent of all album sales on its website. And in the United Kingdom, where indie rock is particularly popular, indie music makes up 34 percent of all streaming activity onSpotify.

Final Words

If you’re looking for an alternative to mainstream artists, you should definitely check out some of the top indie artists. These musicians often don’t get the recognition they deserve, but their music is worth your time and attention. If you’re new to this genre of music, here are 30 bends that you should listen to start your journey.