Indie Never Dies In Salford
If your love of indie died in the 90's with Blur versus Oasis and you think that naughties new-wave Britpop (like Maximo Park and the Kaiser Chiefs) is so much noisy nonsense then prepare to be pleasantly surprised by the latest band out of Salford.
Sandbox, female fronted four piece have just launched their debut single Shades of Grey on the cult Ugly Man label (Elbow, I Am Kloot) and critics are expecting great things.
Shades of Grey is a warning about the perils of suppressing feelings and emotions whilst B Side Out of Rage is an attack on people who try and reel you in. The band hope to rapidly follow up Shades of Grey with another single before launching their debut album in the spring.
Sandbox have been around in various guises for a couple of years. Although they have never played Sounds of the Other City ("we missed the deadline" Andy Gilmore, band member), they are fiercely proud Salfordians. Not all the band members were 'born and bred' in the city but they feel at home here. They live across the borough, holding down day jobs.
"In Manchester people try and adapt their music to a particular scene" says Andy "We don't like that. We feel that in Salford we are freer to be ourselves unhampered by other people's expectations."
Sandbox have been described as The Smiths fronted by Blondie. In the 1990's a slew of female fronted bands stormed the charts giving The Gallaghers and the Blur Boys a run for their money. Sleeper, Echobelly and Salad all had chart hits.
"It's easy to compare us to any female fronted band, although the Sleeper comparison is quite good" says one band member, while Andy says "It's sometimes perceived as a bit sad to like Britpop but it's what we grew up with…Then again we are a contemporary band and are not stuck ten years in the past."
With label stable mates like Elbow and I Am Kloot, the band seems poised for an interesting career with or without the Britpop tag.
In the 90's up and coming indie bands would try and get on programmes like BBC Radio 1's evening session hosted by Steve Lamaq and Jo Wiley. Today things are more fragmented with a host of internet available radio stations that simply weren't there ten years ago like NME Radio, Xfm Manchester and BBC 6 Music. Despite the proliferation in outlets quality doesn't always get through.
Andy complains that Xfm Manchester isn't even programmed from Manchester anymore, leaving it up to community radio stations like Salford City Radio to give airplay to local bands.
With 90's indie stars Shed Seven coming to Manchester for a reunion tour in December there certainly seems to be a market for jingly jangly pop these days. Sandbox are brave in staying true to the kind of music they believe in and if they continue to do this they will certainly stand out from the crowd.
Shades of Grey is a limited edition CD available online here or on download from iTunes here
Words: Liam Starkey