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