The 50 Most Influential Indie Rock Bands

Like we do at this site, PigeonsandPlanes likes to make lists.  They’ve just published what they consider to be the 50 most influential indie rock bands of all time.  Unfortunately, it’s a bloody slideshow that can move rather slowly, so I’ve skipped ahead and grabbed the top 10.

10.  Guided By Voices:  Robert Pollard is one of the most prolific songwriters ever.  Good pick.

9.  REM:  Let’s not forget that REM started as an indie act in IRS Records before moving to Warner in 1988. Now they’re back to being indie.

8.  Talking Heads:  They did their best work on Sire, Seymour Stein’s label that was later purchased by Warner.

7.  Pixies:  No debate here.  Personally, though, I would have ranked them higher.

6.  The Kinks:  Yes, they were eventually signed to a major, but their most influential work in the 60s was Pye, which was very indie.

5.  Nirvana:  We’re talking about the Sub Pop years, obviously.  Still, this is a bit of a cheat given that Nevermind was on a major.

4.  Pavement:  Yup.

3.  Joy Division:  Factory Records.  ‘Nuff said.

2.  Smiths:  The band pretty much invented modern indie during their time with Rough Trade.

1.  Sonic Youth:  If this were a UK list, they’d be further down.  But if we’re talking US indie culture, it’s hard to quibble.

See the full list here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “The 50 Most Influential Indie Rock Bands

  • March 6, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Enjoyed reading this and listening/watching some songs. The top ten are pretty tight but I would have liked to see Yeah Yeah Yeahs and My Bloody Valentine higher on the list. I also would question the likes of Bon Iver making this best of list – what a snore fest. Pixies should be in the top five for sure, like the Smiths and Joy Division. Pavement is ranked a little too high as is Nirvana if we are talking about Bleach and not Nevermind.

  • March 7, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I can't believe At the Drive In isn't on the list??? Super indie and massively influential in the post-hardcore phenomenon that was so huge in the 2000's

  • February 27, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    What no Radiohead? Unbelievable. Without question they should be in the top 3.


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