Depending on how you look at it, indie rock as a music genre can be quite complicated to define. The term itself originated in the 70s in the US and the UK simultaneously. While it was initially used in reference to independent rock music record labels as such, it grew to describe the music they produced, which was most of the time inseparable from alternative rock. It’s not just the tunes that unite indie rock bands, it’s also the do-it-yourself attitude when it comes to recording, music video production and organization of events, autonomous decisions when it comes to the band’s image and low-budget labels. Let’s take a look at the indie rock bands that have left their mark in history.
As arguably the most renown, impactful and influential band to come from Britain since the Beatles, there is no way we can start this indie rock band list with someone else but the Smiths. Their story started with Johnny Marr, still a teenager, showing a tape into the hands of Geoff Travis, the head of Rough Trade. Travis signed the band in 1983, and this marks the beginning of their astounding career which includes four most influential British music albums of the period. While some of the band’s members, whose names we shall not mention, caused the band to take some hits to its reputation, there is no denying that their musical legacy as an indie rock band will last forever, and then a little past that.
Pavement is one of America’s indie rock pioneers, and the title of their band stands in unanimous agreement with such statement. For most of its existence, the band consisted of five musicians, who initially gathered together and started Pavement with the idea of doing a recording project. It’s indie nature really shines through when you realize that for the most part in their early days, Pavement avoided the press or live performances, and in that way (intentionally or not) gained huge underground following. Their career spanned over a decade, 1989-1999, and throughout this time they managed to record five full-length albums which fans love and cherish up until today. 2010 and 2020 saw reunion tours, but other than that the band lets the legacy speak for itself.
The most contemporary addition to the list, it is also one of the best-known British bands as of today. Arctic Monkeys’ popularity exploded in approximately mid-2000, and they hold the award of the fastest selling album in the history of UK – that’s their first album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”. Ever since then, they have received numerous awards and have dominated the top charts pretty consistently. And how could they not, when their tunes have such compelling lyrics and choruses you are bound to have stuck in your head for quite some time after you hear them.