Indie rock music. What is it exactly? One thing we know for sure is that it is fairly difficult to define. In fact, music that fits into a very specific niche, let's say math rock, still then falls under the greater indie rock banner as well.
The term indie rock really came to the fore in the 1980s, however, and was used on both sides of the Atlantic. For example, in Britain, The Smiths were certainly falling under the indie banner. At the same time, in the United States, a band like R.E.M. was most definitely indie rock. But if you tried to classify it by just a certain sound, then you would be getting it wrong most of the time.
Let's just say that indie rock is never going to be played on mainstream radio. Now, on to the task at hand. Your love of the indie rock genre has brought you here, has it not? Today, we will see just how much you know about the indie rock genre. Are you able to identify not only some of the biggest bands but those that paid their dues for years before striking it rich?
And all you have is an image to aid you! Let's see how well you do!
The Strokes were at the forefront of the New York indie music explosion in the early 2000s. Their debut album "Is this It?" was was ranked by Rolling Stone as the eighth greatest debut of all time.
Formed by Brandon Flowers in 2001, The Killers have achieved huge success worldwide with their indie sound. Their first album, 2004's "Hot Fuss" was critically acclaimed and they have followed it up with four other albums as well as other recordings.
Radiohead has achieved worldwide acclaim since they burst on the scene in the 1990s. Their second album, "The Bends" was critically acclaimed but it was their third, 1997s "OK Computer" that launched them into superstardom.
The Smiths formed in Manchester in 1982. They lasted just five years, breaking up in 1987. During those five years, they released four critically acclaimed albums filled with the acerbic wit of leader singer Morrissey and brilliant melodies from guitarist Johnny Marr.
In the late '80s and early '90s, Pixies burst onto the indie music scene fuelled by a loud/quiet song structure. The band was an immediate success with hits such as "Where is my mind" and "Gigantic".
The Arctic Monkeys arrived on the British music scene in 2006 and immediately built up a huge following thanks to their catchy guitar-based tunes. The band continues to push the envelope of their sound and are still one of the most popular British bands in the world today.
Acknowledged as one of the most inventive indie bands in music today, Arcade Fire formed in 2000 in Canada. Their debut album "Funeral" was a massive success, establishing the band as one of the shining lights in the indie music scene.
Fronted by Matt Bellamy, Muse first hit the headlines with their debut "Showbiz" in 1999. It was 2001's "Origin of Symmetry" that really announced them to the indie music world. Driven by Bellamy's brilliant guitar work and impressive voice, Muse are one of the top acts in the world today.
Hailing from New York, Vampire Weekend burst on the scene in 2008 with their self-titled debut album. Fronted by Ezra Koenig, Vampire Weekend remains a very popular indie music act.
Led by Florence Welch (vocals), Florence and the Machine were formed in London in 2007. The quickly received critical acclaim thanks to Welch's impressive voice.
A massive influence on the British indie rock scene, Echo and the Bunnymen, led by Ian McCullough were at the peak of their powers in the early to mid-1980s. Even today, many indie bands cite them as an influence.
The Cribs comprise brothers Gary, Ryan and Ross Jarman. Between 2008 and 2011, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr was also part of the band. Their last four albums have charted in the UK Top 10.
Formed in 1980, R.E.M. quickly became a much-loved indie band thanks to albums such as "Murmur", "Document" "Green" and "Automatic for the People". The band eventually ended touring and recording in 2011.
Formed in New York City in 1981, Sonic Youth are revered in indie music circles for their unique sound. Pioneers of what is known as noise rock, Sonic Youth were largely driven by Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. After their marriage ended in 2011, the band split.
The Stone Roses' self-titled debut album is acknowledged as one of the greatest debuts in history. Their second album wasn't as well received but probably because it took five years to release. The band broke up in the mid-1990s but reformed in 2011 with the promise of new material that has yet to arrive.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes were certainly the most successful bands from the New York music explosion in the early 2000s. Fronted by Karen O, the band includes Nick Zinner and Brian Chase. Although moving in indie rock circles, Yeah Yeah Yeahs are often described as art rock.
Led by Marcus Mumford, Mumford and Sons exploded onto the indie music scene in 2009 with the release of their debut album "Sigh No More". The album was so well received it garnered six Grammy Award nominations.
Paying their dues since the early 1990s, Modest Mouse struck it big with their fourth album, "Good News For People who Love Bad News" which produced the hit "Float On" in 2004. Interestingly, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr joined the band for a three-year period from 2006 to 2008.
The Black Keys formed in 2001 in Akron, Ohio. Focusing on a more bluesy rock sound, the pair built up a cult following thanks to relentless touring before their album "Brothers" brought commercial success. To date, they have won five Grammy Awards.
Formed in Glasgow, Franz Ferdinand had a breakout hit with "Take Me Out" from the self-titled debut album in 2004. It was such a success that Franz Ferdinand won the 2005 Mercy Prize for their effort.
Another band to come from the New York music scene, Interpol released their critically acclaimed debut album, "Turn on the Bright Lights" in 2002. A heavy touring schedule saw Interpol attain mainstream success with their second album, "Antics". They continue to have success to this day.
Formed in 1989, Pavement is the brainchild of Stephen Malkmus. Initially, the band recorded, never playing live, but still produced a cult following which saw them enjoy 10 years of underground success before splitting in 1999.
Formed in 1978, Killing Joke quickly established themselves as a thinking man's doom and gloom mongers. By using controversial imagery, the band members were able to get their name out into the mainstream. Many bands, including Metallica, have cited Killing Joke as an influence.
Formed in 1984, Dinosaur Jr is an acclaimed indie rock band that is cited as a major influence on many bands that enjoyed success in the 1990s. The driving force behind the band was singer/songwriter/guitarist J Mascis. After splitting in 1997, the band has since reformed and released four further albums.
Originally known as Parva, Kaiser Chiefs then changed their name to that of a South African soccer club but then spelled it WRONG! That said, the band has proved to be very popular in Britain, especially on the festival circuit. Their first album, "Employment," which was released in 2005, sold over 3 million copies.
Liz Phair burst on the scene in the 1990s, releasing her angsty songs on albums such as "Exile in Guyville", "Whip Smart" and others. A big label breakthrough followed in 2003, but saw her initial songs rejected by Capital records and Phair forced to work with songwriters assigned by the label. It alienated much of her original fan base.
Brother and sister? Husband and wife? No one was really sure about Meg and Jack White. What we do know is that from the late 1990s until they split in 2011 they produced some of the finest garage rock on the planet. The White Stripes were one of the biggest bands in the indie music scene over this period.
WIlco is acknowledged as one of indie music's bubbling under bands. Although they have never had massive commercial success, those in the know will tell you that they are a superb band. And two Grammy awards for their 2004 album "A Ghost Is Born" will attest to that.
American indie rock band The Shins were formed in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1996. After the relative success of their first two albums, it was 2007's "Wincing the Night Away" that introduced them to a bigger audience when it reached No 2 on the Billboard Hot 200.
Cited by many other bands as an influence, Fugazi had a very unique sound and two vocalists. Fugazi were the ultimate DIY musicians and managed to build a massive following without much record company help.
After the suicide of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis in 1980, the rest of the band decided to carry on in another form. Calling themselves New Order, the remaining members, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris, went on to have massive success in the 1980s and 1990s.
Formed by Conor Oberst in 1995, American indie rock band Bright Eyes have released seven albums up until this point. They are highly regarded in the American indie music scene.
Formed in 2005, The Raconteurs are a side project of Jack White of the White Stripes. The band features Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler. The band released two well-received albums between 2005 and 2011 but then took a break until 2018.
Comprised of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince, The Kills were formed in 2000. To date they have released five acclaimed albums.
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, TV on the Radio formed in 2001. Difficult to track to a single style of music, their influences and therefore output is very eclectic.
One of the new wave of indie rock bands that have come to the fore over the past few years, Bastille was formed in London in 2010. In 2014, they were named the Best Newcomers at the Brit Awards.
Formed in 2002, MGMT has had much success in the second decade of the 2000s. They have had plenty of success on both sides of Atlantic with their unique brand of indie rock.
Together with Oasis, Blur were Brit Pop in the 1990s. Their two releases in the 2000s, however, are certainly more indie rock. Blur are fronted by Damon Albarn, a man with many different side projects.
The Decemberists were formed in 2000 in Portland, Oregan. They are known for their incredible live shows, which are big on crowd participation.
Robert Smith formed The Cure in 1976, initially as a punk band. Through the 1980s, however, The Cure were one of the bands at the forefront of the British indie rock scene and built themselves a following all over the world.