1. Arcade Fire
This band is what I think it sounded like when the earth formed; epic. I had to explain who these guys even were to my mom and my grandma after the Grammys. I don’t think they liked it but the joke’s on them—because this is the kind of once in a lifetime band that you’d have to be deaf to ignore (no offense to my deaf friends). But don’t take my word for it: Pitchfork gave their first album, The Funeral, a 9.7! How’s that for life-changing?
2. Neutral Milk Hotel
I hadn’t heard of these guys until my older brother played me their first album, In The Airplane Over The Sea. The music’s sad, but it still pumps me up when I listen to it—or so one might say. I wish this group made other albums, but this one’s still really good.
Maybe my favorite modern indie band. These guys are awesome, and they’re French, too—I wish there were more bands from France! I guess that’s a cultural thing, though. Phoenix are a rock band, but they make a kind of rock music that combines elements of dance music as well. If they played this at nightclubs, I bet I’d go to a lot more of them.
4. The Fray
For the record, I liked the Fray before they were cool. Their Movement EP was a real breath of fresh-air for the indie music scene, combining effortlessly beautiful piano-work with unceasingly pure vocal-work—and that’s not even getting into the masterful guitar-work. Yet these three guys from Denver only managed to improve on the formula. Despite their disappointing third (and most recent) album, the guys are still able to put on a hell of a show. It’ll change your life—if it doesn’t save it first.
Kind of an old-school pick, but I’m an old-school kind of guy. R.e.M.’s the kind of indie band you love to love, and they’ve still got it after all these years—so it’s too bad they broke up after their last album, Collapse Into Now. Too bad, because it was their best in years, proving that the 21st century really is the greatest time for indie musicians everywhere.
6. Grizzly Bear/Animal Collective (tie)
I don’t even know where to start. These two I have to lump together, because let’s be honest, they’re both kind of weird. But in a good way. I’d definitely recommend these bands to any friends of mine who are ready to take their music-listening habits to the next level. Folk never sounded so freaky. I’ve never used a drug in my life, but I bet this is what it’s like.