Top 10 Indie Music Vocalists

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Some of the biggest Indie bands out there today gained their popularity from the originality brought by the voice of their vocalists. These vocalists add a distinctive sound that makes Indie music what it is- an offbeat, eclectic mix of instruments, vocals, and lyrics that strays from the beaten path.

10. Ben Gibbard

Ben Gibbard, a Washington native and Jack-of-all-Trades in the entertainment industry, is most known for providing the lead vocals in his band, Death Cab for Cutie. Death Cab for Cutie, signed to Atlantic Records, has released six studio albums and is Grammy nominated. Beyond Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Gibbard provided lead vocals for the Indie band, the Postal Service, and back up vocals for Harvey Danger, Styrofoam and Feist. In 2007, Ben Gibbard toured as a solo artist, covering pop songs to an Indie style beat.

9. Spencer King

Spencer Krug, formally of Frog Eyes, gained his popularity through Wolf Parade- the Canadian based Indie band which Spencer Krug both formed and provides lead vocals for. Wolf Parade, signed to Sub Pop Records, has released two albums and the band is working on their third. In 2005, Spencer Krug started a solo project under the moniker, Sunset Rubdown. Sunset Rubdown produced one album before the project was expanded to include three band members in 2006. The expanded Sunset Rubdown produced a second album in May of 2006. Spencer Krug’s scratchy, deep voice pays credence to the unique musical style and lyrics of both Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown.

8. Reginie Chassagne

Régine Chassagne is half of the husband and wife duo that formed the Indie band Arcade Fire in 2003. Arcade Fire, signed by Merge Records, has released three albums. Their freshman album, Funeral, was the highest selling album for Merge Records to date. The album won several awards including MTV 2’s Album of the Year. Régine Chassagne’s highly feminine voice completes the soothing undertones of Arcade Fire’s instrumentals, and provides a contrast to the bands often haunting lyrics.

7. Todd Fink

Todd Fink, born Todd Baechle, provides the catchy vocals for the Faint. The Faint, originally known as Norman Bailer, included singer/songwriter Connor Oberset. After Oberset’s departure, the band changed their name and adopted a more electronic, funky sound. The Faint has recorded six full-length albums and two remix albums. The band has been heard on the O.C., the Office, CSI: New York and Gossip Girl. Todd Fink has recorded with Venus Commander and Bright Eyes. In 2005, he married Orenda Fink of Azure Ray, changing his name to Todd Fink.

6. Kevin Barnes

Kevin Barnes’ high pitched, but surprisingly easy on the ears vocals, gives Of Montreal a light-hearted feel. Barnes’ formed Of Montreal and writes the lyrics using a blend of personal experience and fictional writing.  Of Montreal’s production record spans over a decade and includes ten full-length albums. Kevin Barnes has also recorded with Andrew VanWyngarden from MGMT and Bright Eyes. Outside of the music world, Barnes’ produced a comedy tour, has acting plans and is producing an album for another upcoming indie band.

5.  Jeff Mangum


Jeff Mangum provided the vocals for his band, Neutral Milk Hotel. Neutral Milk Hotel produced two full-length albums and several singles in the late nineties before Mangum disbanded the group. Despite their relatively short career, Neutral Milk Hotel continues to make Top Artists lists and are considered to be an influence for several indie bands to come out in the late 2000’s. Since leaving Neutral Milk Hotel, Mangum has largely avoided public appearances choosing instead to collaborate on albums with other bands such as the Apples in Stereo and Of Montreal.

4. Tracyanne Campbell

Tracyanne Campbell, along with Carey Lander, provides vocals in Camera Obscura. Campbell’s soft, girlish voice has given rise to the huge popularity of this Scottish band. Since forming the group, Camera Obscura has produced four full-length albums. In 2009, they released a special edition 7”, French Navy, which sold exclusively in independent record stores. The band’s song, “Arrangements Of Shapes And Space”, appeared on the T.V. show, Friday Night Lights.

3. Gary Lightbody

Gary Lightbody provides vocals and rhythm guitar for Snow Patrol. The group, originally known as Shrug, has released six albums to date. Their song “Chasing Cars” was nominated for a Grammy in 2006. In 2007, they won the Silver Clef Awards’ Best British Group title and in 2010, the band took home the Meteor Music Awards Best Irish Album title. Lightbody also formed the group the Reindeer section and preformed with Mogwai.

2. Torquil Campbell

Torquil Campbell does lead vocals for the Stars, is a member of the groups Broken Social Scene and Memphis and is currently working on a solo project under the moniker Dead Child Star. Both Stars and Broken Social Scene have been nominated for several Juno awards. Torquil Campbell also doubles as an actor. He has appeared in Broadway plays, movies and had cameo appearances on both Canadian and American TV shows.

1. Elliott Smith

Elliott Smith started his musical career as a member of the Seattle-based rock band Heatmiser. In the mid-ninety’s Smith left the group and went solo. Throughout his solo career, Smith used his personal battles with depression and drug addiction to fuel the lyrics for many of his songs. In 2003, Elliot Smith died from two stab wounds to the chest. Smith’s melancholic voice and haunting lyrics continued gaining popularity after his death and three compilation albums were released posthumously.

By Angela Colley


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13 Comments

  1. So ‘Indie’ started in US?? News to me,worst list ever,you haven’t even bothered to go back to the start of ‘Indie’ in the mid to late 70’s,waste of time.

    • “Indie” is hardly a genre. If you really wanna be smug about it, yes, indie started in the US with a little band called the Velvet Underground.

      But I maintain that it’s not a genre. Much like how people call everything under the sun “alternative rock”, though that moniker was originally meant to describe the more “out-there” artists from the post-punk movement (such as Sonic Youth and REM). But eventually, “alternative” became “normal” and in my opinion, the term Indie Rock is just the same label that alternative rock carried throughout the 80s and early 90s. So, with that in mind, it’s clear that the use of the word indie for the sake of this list is meant to describe these more modern acts.

      Though, again, if you DO want to call indie a genre, you’re still wrong, because it definitely started with the Velvets. Sure, there was probably some obscure trash band that hipsters will use to dispute my claim, but the VU are the birth of indie, alternative, and whatever the hell other label you want to give your Rock and Roll in an attempt to differentiate it from the norm.

  2. Does Kate Bush count as indie, or is she considered alternative? Is there a difference? I am not into indie so I honestly don’t know much about it.

  3. Mork Gryning on

    Bad list. You give hardly any credit to English bands who fronted the movement like The Smiths. Very poor research.

  4. Yeah very poor reasearched list. The fact the Morrissey isn’t even on the list(who should be in the number one slot) shows you did very little research.

  5. WHY isn’t Morrissey on here?!?! Morrissey for sure is a way more typical indie singer as “Snow Patrol”. What the hell dude, I do like Elliott Smith though, but he doesn’t desirve 1st place, Moz does >:/

  6. This lists feels a lot like random name dropping from some highschooler who just discovered indie music via his/her local, corporately ran “alternative” music station.

  7. Come on, there is more to indie music than most of the gay (mostly Canadian) bands you have listed. Camera Obs…what? Death Cab is big no. Only ones I liked were Elliot Smith and Neutral Milk Hotel.

    Ok I just saw Snow Patrol and my anus cringed.

  8. SNOW PATROL?

    I repeat. SNOW PATROL?

    Elliott Smith is brilliant, but Mozzy is the king of indie.

  9. Is this list for real? If “distinctive” element is the core, then vocalists like Victoria Legrand, Antony Hegarty should have been mentioned. Or maybe even gorgeous somber baritone like Ed Droste (Grizzly Bear), rich-and-heavy Matt Berninger (The National).

    Ben Gibbard’s voice is so subpar.