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The 13 Best 2010s Alternative Bands

Building a list of the best alternative bands of the 2010s gets progressively tougher as the decade progresses. Therefore, it may be best to set some guidelines to keep us on track before diving into our picks. We’ll judge these bands on their influence throughout the decade, the quality and consistency of their music, and their overall impact on the alternative scene.

The band doesn’t need to have started in the 2010s, but they must have been active and made a significant mark during this period. With those rules in place, let’s dive straight into the list!

The Best 2010s alternative bands

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice established themselves as one of the best 2010s alternative rock bands, carving out a unique space in the music scene with their genre-blending sound. Formed in 2010, the London-based quartet quickly gained traction with their unique mix of grunge and shoegaze. Their debut album, My Love Is Cool, showcased their versatility and was met with critical acclaim, earning them a Mercury Prize nomination and solidified their place as a band to watch within the alternative rock scene.

The band’s follow-up, Visions of a Life, furthered their reputation. This time they went one better with the album winning the 2018 Mercury Prize after they demonstrated a more refined sound, blending gritty guitar riffs with catchy and beautiful melodies. Tracks like “Don’t Delete the Kisses” and “Yuk Foo” highlight the band’s dynamic range and Ellie Rowsell’s captivating vocals.

Wolf Alice’s impact on the 2010s alternative rock scene is undeniable. Their ability to seamlessly weave various musical influences into a cohesive and compelling sound sets them apart. Their contribution to the decade’s music landscape is significant and deserving of recognition.

Tame Impala

While Tame Impala was active before the 2010s, it was within this decade they truly came into their own,  establishing themselves as one of the best 2010s alternative rock acts. Led by the multi-talented Kevin Parker, Tame Impala released three critically acclaimed albums during the decade.

Their 2012 album Lonerism showcased the act’s ability to blend psychedelic rock with modern pop sensibilities. This was followed by Currents in 2015, which featured the hit singles “Let It Happen” and “The Less I Know the Better” and positioned Tame Impala at the top of the alternative rock scene.

Kevin Parker’s innovative use of synths and attentive production style set Tame Impala apart, transforming their sound from the guitar-heavy psychedelia of their earlier work to a more polished and electronic-infused vibe. On top of this Currents was a huge commercial success, receiving multiple awards and selling over a million copies worldwide. Now that’s an alternative success story! 


You cannot deny Paramore’s ability to evolve their sound, and their releases during the 2010s all take their sound and add a unique spin to it. Paramore may be one of the best 2000s alternative bands, but they are also one of the best alternative bands of the 2010s, which is a feat in itself.

Their 2013 self-titled album marked a significant turning point, featuring hits like “Still Into You” and “Ain’t It Fun,” earning the band a Grammy for Best Rock Song in the process. This album showcased a more pop-rock tone and blended in new-wave elements.

In 2017, Paramore released After Laughter, further pushing the boundaries of their sound. Embracing an 80s-inspired synth-pop vibe. Songs like “Hard Times” and “Fake Happy” highlighted their ability to reinvent themselves while maintaining their classic identity, earning them new fans while keeping the old satisfied.

Their willingness to experiment with different genres and their resilience in the face of lineup changes have earned them a dedicated fan base and critical respect. Paramore’s ability to adapt while maintaining a consistent output made them a standout act in the 2010s alternative rock scene.

The Vaccines

The Vaccines quickly made a mark as one of the best 2010s alternative rock bands, rising with a fresh and energetic sound that quickly resonated, especially within the UK. Bursting onto the scene with their debut album, What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?, the album’s infectious hooks and high-energy tracks like “If You Wanna” and “Post Break-Up Sex” embodied the spirit of indie rock and garnered a passionate following. 

Their sophomore album, Come of Age (2012), continued their success, debuting at number one on the UK Albums Chart. The Vaccines’ blend of garage rock revival and modern indie sensibilities gave them an identity and allowed them to set themselves apart from the ever-busy UK indie-rock scene at the time.

Throughout the 2010s, The Vaccines consistently delivered quality music, with albums like English Graffiti and Combat Sports. Despite this forever adapting tone, it is their earlier albums that position them as one of the best alternative bands of the 2010s.

Cage the Elephant

It is Cage The Elephant’s raw energy and eclectic sound that makes them a standout in the 2010s alternative rock scene. From Kentucky, the band may have made a splash with their self-titled debut album in 2008, however, it was in the 2010s that they stepped up to the mantle of a 2010s alternative great. 2011 album, Thank You, Happy Birthday, showcased a more refined sound but also delivered some outright angst. Blending punk, blues, and garage rock, tracks like “Shake Me Down” continued the band’s knack for catchy hooks and introspective lyrics but placed it outside the conventional punk setting.

Now let’s talk about Melophobia. This album is the band’s version of Nevermind. Melophobia earned them critical acclaim with a Grammy nomination, while songs like “Come a Little Closer” and “Cigarette Daydreams” became alternative anthems and garnered monetary success. Their sound continued to evolve with Tell Me I’m Pretty (2015), produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, which won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. 

The band’s relentless touring and electrifying live performances, with Matt Schultz being one of the great showmen of the decade, played a significant role in their rise to fame. Their dynamic stage presence and ability to connect with audiences made them a standout act throughout the decade. Cage the Elephant’s 2019 album, Social Cues, continued their streak of success, winning another Grammy for Best Rock Album, featuring hits like “Ready to Let Go.”

See how we ranked the band’s songs here! 


HAIM emerged as one of the best 2010s alternative rock bands thanks to their blend of rock, pop, and R&B influences. Comprised of sisters Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim, the band gained widespread attention with their debut album, Days Are Gone. The album’s polished production, infectious melodies, and standout tracks like “The Wire” and “Falling” caught the attention of alternative fans and pop fans alike.

They continued their catchy with follow-up album, Something to Tell You (2017), which was packed with emotionally resonant songs. Tracks like “Want You Back” and “Little of Your Love” put their harmonious vocals and tight musicianship on full display, claiming a place in the alternative rock landscape. Seamlessly blending genres and drawing from diverse musical influences gave the band the recipe to set them apart from their peers.

HAIM’s influence extended beyond their studio albums. Their dynamic live performances and charismatic stage presence made them festival favourites and solidified their reputation as a formidable live act. The sisters’ chemistry and musicianship were on full display, captivating audiences around the world. Plus they managed to become pals with Taylor Swift in the process, I guess alt and pop can be friends after all! 

Twenty One Pilots

Comprised of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, the duo’s unique blend of alternative rock, hip-hop, and electronic music set them apart. Their breakout album, Vessel, laid the foundation for their distinctive sound, but Blurryface catapulted them to the limelight of the mainstream. The album came with hits like “Stressed Out” and “Ride,” and this helped it resonate with a wide audience and displayed their rap and alternative rock genre-blending prowess.

Throughout the decade, Twenty One Pilots continued to evolve their sound, experimenting with different musical styles and lyrical themes, all receiving different levels of success. Their 2018 album, Trench, was both a critical and commercial success, further solidifying their place in the alternative rock genre. The band’s energetic live performances and personal lyrics helped them build a dedicated fan base, known as the “Skeleton Clique”. Yeah, that’s how big they got.

While they may not have received the same level of critical acclaim as some other artists on this list, it’s difficult to overlook their commercial success. Their ability to seamlessly merge various musical influences into a cohesive and accessible sound has left an indelible mark on the genre. Their innovative approach and widespread popularity make them a standout alternative act of the 2010s.

Catfish and The Bottlemen

One for the UK alternative rock scene here, but Catfish and The Bottlemen’s rise to the heights from the underground to headlining festivals is nothing short of impressive. Showing everyone what they are all about with their debut album, The Balcony, Tracks like “Kathleen” and “Cocoon” showcased their now iconic guitar-driven rock songs with memorable hooks.

Their follow-up album, The Ride, solidified their slot in the UK alternative rock scene. This was thanks to songs like “7” and “Soundcheck”, which demonstrated their growth as songwriters and performers, earning them critical acclaim and growing their fan base. Catfish and the Bottlemen’s straightforward rock aesthetic and relatable lyrics propelled them to festival headline slots.

In 2019, the band continued their rise with their third studio album, The Balance, which continued to showcase their signature sound while incorporating new elements and sonic textures. While this album never quite hit with the fans like their fans like their albums leading up to this release, it still displayed the band in a light that no one had seen up until this point.

While still early into their careers, Catfish and The Bottlemen were monumental to the revival of the UK indie rock scene in the 2010s proving raw energy and honest lyrics still had a place within the genre.


Foals are seen as one of the best 2010s alternative rock bands, despite their beginnings within the late 2000s. Antidotes may be seen as the band’s initial introduction to the music scene with hits such as “Cassius”, but “Two Steps, Twice” is the initial indicator of the band’s ability to blend indie rock with math rock influences.

Total Life Forever (2010) solidified their earlier math rock hints and blended them with indie rock and electronic music elements. Tracks like “Spanish Sahara” showcased their evolving sound and a monumental growth in the band’s songwriting prowess. Foals would showcase why they belong in the conversation for one of the best bands of the 2010s with their next two releases Holy Fire and What Went Down. Here the band would creep into the mainstream with catchy singles such as “My Number” and “Mountain at My Gates”, which would receive serious airplay.

With a further two studio albums to see out the decade, the band’s output could hardly be contended with. Add onto the output Foals’ live performances, and their influence on the 2010s alternative rock scene is undeniable. Combining an innovative approach to songwriting and maximising genre-blending sound has left a lasting impression on audiences, making them a standout act of the decade.

The Black Keys

Any list of the best bands of the 2010s would be incomplete without featuring The Black Keys. Despite their activity during the 2000s, it was in the 2010s that duo Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney caught the eye of the rock scene with the album, Brothers. You had songs such as “Tighten Up” and “Howlin’ for You” propelling them into the spotlight, whilst earning them award nominations in the process.

The band followed the success of Brothers and made more moves within the alternative rock scene with albums like El Camino and Turn Blue. These albums showcased their signature gritty fuzz-laden sound and positioned it alongside catchy hooks and catchier riffs. Songs like “Lonely Boy” and “Gold on The Ceiling” became instant classics, cementing their status as alt-rock and rock icons.

It wasn’t just their studio albums, that The Black Keys are renowned for, their electrifying live performances caught the eyes and hearts of fans too. Add into this the band’s journey into producing for other artists in the alternative rock scene then their contribution to the scene is almost unparalleled.

The band would go on a hiatus during the decade, however, they returned in 2019 with Let’s Rock, which marked a return to their blues-rock roots. 

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys made our list when we went through the best alternative rock bands of the 2000s rightfully so after redefining the alternative rock scenes in both the UK and the US, but here they are again. While their initial release of the decade, Suck It and See, may not have torn up many trees, the album after AM certainly would.

AM, marked a significant transformation in their sound, blending rock, hip-hop beats, and R&B influences. This release produced hit singles like “Do I Wanna Know?” and “R U Mine?”, showcased Alex Turner’s distinctive vocal style and lyrical prowess. Most of the songs from this album would become instant classics in the world of alternative rock, being sung in clubs and bars worldwide. 

Throughout the decade, Arctic Monkeys continued to innovate and push boundaries. Their 2018 album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, was a bold departure from their previous work, featuring a more experimental and spacey sound. This would prove to create a controversial divide in the Arctic Monkeys fanbase, with some fans loving the new sound while others hating it. 

Either way, you cannot deny their influences on the 2010s alternative rock scene as they continually pushed the genre’s boundaries, to varying degrees of success. The combination of artistic growth and unwavering dedication makes Arctic Monkeys a standout act of the second decade in a row.

Bring Me The Horizon

This might be a controversial inclusion on the list of the “Best Alternative Rock Bands of the 2010s”, but I will tell you why they belong here. While not starting the decade as an alternative rock band, Bring Me The Horizon evolved into one of the best 2010s alternative rock bands, transforming their sound and broadening their mainstream appeal. 

Originating from Sheffield, England, the band initially gained recognition in the mid-2000s with their metalcore sound, but once they realised the talent they had. Have Bring Me The Horizon become an out-and-out alternative rock band? No, but they have blended multiple alternative rock elements into their writing. 

Their 2013 album, Sempiternal, marked a significant turning point for the band. This release saw the band incorporating electronic and melodic elements, producing tracks like “Can You Feel My Heart” and “Sleepwalking.” However, the album That’s the Spirit in which the band embraced a more alternative rock and electronic-oriented sound. Tracks like “Follow You” and “True Friends” showed the world that the band could do lighter music too. 

Bring Me The Horizon’s impact is not limited to their studio albums. Their live performances, characterized by high energy and visual spectacle, earned them a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts of the decade. While they may not have followed the traditional path of an alternative rock band, Bring Me The Horizon’s ability to innovate and evolve has left a significant mark on the genre.

Jack White

He might have gone solo in the 2010s, but Jack White is one of the kings of alternative rock. Released his debut solo album in 2012, Blunderbuss, and Jack White combined alt-rock, blues, and folk elements, and demonstrated his ability to grow in tracks such as “I’m Shakin'” and “Sixteen Saltines,” which received widespread critical acclaim. Blunderbuss debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and set up White to continue his legacy at the top of the genre.

His follow-up album, Lazaretto, continued to showcase his eclectic style and musical ability. The album featured a unique mix of hard-hitting rock songs and intricate ballads and infused it with rhythm and blues. This resulted in standout tracks like the title track “Lazaretto” and “Would You Fight for My Love?”. Lazaretto would be another commercial success and further demonstrated White’s ability to evolve his sound while staying true to his guitar-playing blend of garage rock.

White remained an influential figure in the music industry outside of just his music too with his record label, Third Man Records. His efforts to promote vinyl records and his involvement in various side projects, including The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, highlighted his commitment to preserving and innovating rock music.

It’s safe to say that Jack White has solidified himself as a legend in alternative rock.

Some 2010s bands just missing the cut

  • Of Monsters and Men
  • Two Door Cinema Club
  • Muse
  • Royal Blood
  • Biffy Clyro
  • Hozier

See about a different decade of brilliant music here! 

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