I've been writing about foreign travel and European rock music online for over 12 years.
Presenting the Lighter Side of Italian Guitar-Fueled Rock
Here, you will find a chaotic melange of pop, rock, punk, grunge, garage, and whatever else these great musicians throw into the mix. The rich ingredients all add up to plenty of terrific indie rock from some of Italy's best artists.
They are invariably inspired by the classic punk of the '70s as well as the indie rock bands of the '90s from the United Kingdom and the USA. Some bands, therefore, sing in English, but most prefer their native Italian.
You will find lots of raw energy, passion, and plenty of attitude among these Italian indie rock bands. Read about them below!
15 Best Italian Indie Rock and Alternative Bands
- ....A Toys Orchestra
- Prozac +
- Giardini di Mirò
Verdena is a hugely successful band that formed in 1995 and has stayed together as a solid trio of brothers Alberto and Luca Ferrari with Roberta Sammarelli.
Their eponymous first album, released in 1999, brought acclaim, awards, and MTV airplay. Their raw, post-grunge guitar style sounds straight out of Seattle rather than their hometown of Albino in Lombardy.
Apart from the occasional cover version, they faithfully stick to their native tongue in their songs from vocalist Alberto. They are, without a doubt, one of the most exciting rock bands from Italy and certainly one of the most popular.
Their best tunes are "Elefante," "Luna," "Valvonauta," "Ultranoia," plus the ballads "Angie" and "Trovami un Modo Semplice per Uscirne."
This band named itself after the famous US basketball star Michael Finley and was formed in 2002.
They come from the town of Legnano near Milan, and their brand of pop-punk has become very popular in Italy. Their recognition spread beyond their native borders when they won the Best Italian Act at the 2006 and 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards.
Their style of music may suit fans of American bands like Sum 42, Blink 182, and Good Charlotte. Songs to check out are "Per Sempre," "Scegli Me," "Fumo e Cenere," and the acoustic ballad "Meglio di Noi non c'è Niente."
Their name is taken from a song by sixties legends the Velvet Underground as their founder Manual Agnelli is a huge fan.
He started the band in 1985 in Milan, and originally, their music was in English. However, they reverted to their native tongue on the 1995 album Germi and have remained loyal to their own language ever since.
Their music is distinctively melodic and well-structured, with their lyrics full of wit and irony.
Their best songs are perhaps "Non e per Sempre," "Bianca," "Quello Che Non C'e," "Pelle," "Ci Sono Molti Modi," and the driving beat of "Ballata per la mia Piccola Iena."
Lost is a young pop-rock band from Northern Italy split between the towns of Vicenza and Thiene in their origins. They were formed in 2003, but their first album eventually came in 2008, followed by a tour.
Success quickly followed, and they made good use of the internet to publish and publicize their music and build a strong fan base. They have also won Best Italian Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2009, as well as striking gold and platinum awards in Italy.
The top songs from Lost are "Sopra il Mondo," "Tra Pioggia e Nuvole," "Oggi," "Standby," "Nel Silenzio," and "Sulla Mia Pelle," which was a collaboration with Joel Madden from US rock band Good Charlotte.
5. ...A Toys Orchestra
This innovative band was founded in 1998 in Salerno in Campania. They even have an ellipse before their title for some strange reason.
Inspired by British indie music, they sing in English and are noted for catchy melodies and occasionally downbeat tunes.
A popular band, they have enjoyed great acclaim, most notably for their 2007 album Technicolor Dreams, which brought an invitation to a massive live event organized by Rai Radio.
Their best songs include "Peter Pan Syndrome," "Powder on the Words," "Letter to Myself," "Celentano," and "Elephant Man."
Coming from Brescia, this band was formed as far back as 1986 under their original name Precious Time.
They were very prolific, releasing ten studio albums as well as a live album before their eventual break up in 2003. They appeared at the prestigious Sanremo Festival in 1991 and the following year enjoyed great exposure when they were the support act for Luciano Ligabue.
In recent years, founding members Omar Pedrini and the singer Francesco Renga have performed live together on stage, albeit briefly. But it gives their fans hope that there may be some sort of reunion in the future.
Quality tunes among many are "Sole Spento," the sublime 'Sangue Impazzito," "Vola Piano," and the heavy rockers "2020" and "Piove."
Building a strong fan base the old-fashioned way, Malfunk established themselves on the Italian rock scene of the 1990s.
Their début album, Sound of the Soul, appeared in 1994, followed by Tempi Supplementari two years later. They originally sang in English, reflecting founder Federico Forconi's previous odyssey to America, where he played with the likes of Ziggy Marley and Jello Biafra.
Malfunk can be compared to the likes of Pearl Jam in their style of alternative rock, but after Marco Cocci joined the band for their second album, they have sung in Italian.
The best songs to have a listen to are "Lento," "Randagi," "Sono il Re," "La Mia Sensazione," "Il Dubbio," Mi Salveró," and "Beatitudine."
These guys arose from the ancient city of Verona in Northern Italy. They were formed in 2005 and sing their catchy tunes in English.
Their post-grunge sound will be familiar to fans of American bands like Weezer and Pavement. Plus, they sing vocal harmonies that echo the '60s sounds of the Beach Boys and perhaps also The Byrds, which overlay their raw guitar sound.
A hard-working band, they have toured extensively over the years and have even enjoyed some modest success in the USA with a healthy teenage following.
Their top tunes are "Yes Man," "15th of August," "Ode to a Season," "Summer Teenage Girl," and "Playground Love."
Formed in 2001, Deasonika is another Northern Italian rock band from Milan. The producer Marco Trentacoste took charge in the studio for their début album L'Uomo del Secolo and joined the band as a guitarist.
They quickly aroused interest in the Italian rock scene and became regulars on radio playlists around the country. They have also supported charity work that is involved in building water supplies in Africa.
Top tunes to have a listen to are the ballad "Non Dimentico Piu," "Cliche," "Il Giorni Della Mia Sana Follia," "Piccolo Dettagli al Buio," and "Betrayal," which features Jaz Coleman, the singer of English indie legends Killing Joke.
10. Prozac +
Formed in 1995, this band comes from Pordenone in North-East Italy. Named after the famous anti-depressant, their lyrics reflect darker themes of alienation and disaffected youth.
However, their pop-punk music is quite upbeat for the most part, and staying on the chemical theme, their big breakthrough came with the song "Acida" in 1997. Consequently, they began to attract a large following in Italy.
They even rubbed shoulders with U2 during the Italian leg of the massive Pop-Mart Tour by the Irish superstars. Highlights of their back catalog are "Il Mondo di Piera," "Angelo," "Gioia Nera," "Acida," "Sto Male," and "Colla."
From Lombardy, two of the band, Davide Simonetta and Paolo Cremonesi, have known each other since they were only 12 years old.
They formed Karnea with drummer Stefano Guidi, and their name derives from a type of rose. Their recording début came in 2003 with the album Sublime Follia.
Their style is an energetic mix of grunge and punk with a raw texture of aggression and simplicity. However, this is tempered as their music can also contain a feeling that is "graceful and intimate, that knows how to change shape and colour" as described by one reviewer.
There is little information online about the band, but certainly, there are plenty of videos to enjoy. Top of the range are "Boom Boom," "La Matta," "Kombo," "Pornodiva," "Acerbero," and the superb "L'Affanno."
This band was formed in 1994 in Brescia in the Lombardy region of Italy and is not to be confused with another band from France with a similar name.
Matmara had contractual difficulties with their record company, and consequently, their first album wasn't released until 2003.
Also, their singer and guitarist Gianmario Ragazzi suffered personal problems along the way. However, they persevered and carved out a successful career with three albums and the addition of a keyboard player Ulrico Bragaglio.
The best songs from the band are "Sa il Mio Nome," "Fragile," "E Cose Buona e Ingiusta," and "Fino a Perdermi," which is a collaboration with the female singer Syria.
13. Giardini di Mirò
Based in Reggio Emilia, they were founded in 1998 and sing in both Italian and English. They come from a village called Cavriago, which has had Lenin as its honorary mayor since 1917.
Described as a "post-rock" band, they have released several albums and are not afraid to experiment with their sound.
They also have a following abroad. As well as appearing in their home country, they have performed live in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, and Greece.
Their top songs are "Citta di Vetro," "Pet Life Saver," "Dividing Opinions," "Il Fuoco," and "Little Victories."
Formed in 2005, these guys hail from Cesena in Emillia-Romagna. They are a young, vibrant band who have known each other from an early age.
They describe their music as a mix of 1990s alternative music and timeless classic vintage rock. Musically they produce well-arranged and accessible tunes. Lyrically, they often write about social issues and human behavior.
They released their first album, Keep Out From Me, in 2011 to positive reviews. They're definitely a band going places, and it's worth looking out for their future releases.
Their best songs so far are "Break the Cover," "Trashing Smashing," and the soaring ballad "A Step Ahead."
L'Orso is a Piedmontese band from Ivrea just north of Turin, which began in 2010 led by singer-guitarist Mattia Barro. They generally play with a light touch of sensitive guitars and gentle keyboards with harmonized vocals.
Their name translates to "the bear" and was also the title of their first album, released in 2013. They promoted the album at over 200 concerts all over Italy and also took in gigs in Paris and Brussels.
The following year saw an overhaul of personnel with a completely new line-up behind Barro. Two more albums quickly followed: Ho Messo la Sveglia per la Rivoluzione in 2015, and Un Luogo Sicuro the following year.
Yesica on October 02, 2018:
Does anyone know what site I can find local talent I am searching for European Entertainment in my city but I am having a very hard time.
Nope on September 28, 2017:
Finley. You kiddin' me?
Shinkicker (author) from Scotland on October 09, 2012:
I will do Antonella, many thanks for the link :-) Italia Rocks!!!
Antonella on October 09, 2012:
Check this band out, from italy too: http://www.houseofpost.com they're great!