About Jack Murray

My name is Jack and I am a writer who wishes he was a footballer. You can read my work at sillycivilians.tumblr.com and follow me on Twitter @SILLYCIVILIAN. As well as being TV & Radio Editor for the University of Edinburgh’s @TheStudentNewspaper, the UK’s Oldest Student Newspaper, I write about television, fashion, music, popular culture, politics and football for various other national publications. I was voted Britain’s 3rd Best Dressed Real Man by Esquire in 2010, and believe that I’d probably come about 29th in a current poll. If I wasn’t a writer and was actually a footballer, I would play as a cultured holding midfielder for Everton and be casually compared to Andrea Pirlo. I also wish I was Andrea Pirlo. Or at least had Andrea Pirlo’s hair. Or his capacity to grow exceptional beards. I'll settle for writing funny words on the internet though. Perpetually beardless.

Funky Offish

Don’t be surprised if in the next six months you are invited to a party and told that ‘Funky Offish’ is the encouraged dress code. Surpassing expectations as a quirky tag for their own particular style, Pixie Geldof and Ashley William’s phrase is burning deep into the fashion lexicon and will soon be the moniker for their own line of jewellery and clothes. If you’re not ‘Funky Offish’ now, you will be very soon.

Endearingly garish and charmingly unpretentious, the ‘look’ (if you can call it that) represents a definite move on Pixie’s part to a new podium of power in the industry. Long considered the Geldof most-likely-to explode into high fashion, the line looks set to abandon expected elegance and embrace a pulpy, popculture addicted aesthetic. Brash, bold and wry with trashiness, someone mastering ‘Funky Offish’ mixes Daria with Cher Horowitz, or eats fast food in high heels – it’s a brilliant mess, as if a cartoon came to life.

As a growing hashtag and, whisper it, movement, on Instagram and Twitter, the term has managed to transcend the current moment and become a useful term for style icons passed, too: Rachel Green’s penchant for sportswear and heavy mascara in Friends marks her as a ‘Funky Offish’ trailblazer and a steady stream of candid snaps on the Instagram page, of anonymous models engaging in mundane tasks (i.e. ironing), seem to suggest that it’s an easily achievable guise.

Something ‘Funky Offish’ is about to happen in the fashion world. Bring rollerblades and a gold chain.

Charlotte OC

Charlotte OC’s first single ‘Hangover’ contains very little of the slumping misery that the post-booze malaise usually produces.

Instead, it’s a whirling and confident statement of sultry strut that suggests the artist, at just 22, is as comfortable in the dirty romance of electronic beats as she is in the piano led ‘Stolen Car’ which is an exploding ballad of cool, cold nature; cinematic and serious, it’s Hollywood sentiment via Blackburn and Berlin.

Her debut EP also contains the emotional ‘Cut The Rope’ which has lyrics that loop with that lilt that Lana left us gobsmacked with. “I’m running in circles, I’m losing it all” she declares as instruments clatter in a crescendo of midnight madness.

Many artists have attempted to encapsulate the sound of Berlin in their music and often the British have managed to do it best (we’re looking at you, Mr Bowie) and in this EP ‘Colour My Heart’ Charlotte OC offers another slick and lush love letter to the grey city.

A decidedly melancholic but positively plush mesh of Britain and Berlin, the record is Europe exploding into glitter, dust and danger – devour it, wherever you are.

 

That’s Juvey?

Between utilising a Bugsy Malone hook and featuring the lazy cuisine of cold beans on toast in his videos, That’s Juvey? is an artist willing to use humour to get his serious message across.

Indeed, one of the most intriguing things about the young Ellesmere Port-born rapper is the snarling understanding of the industry that runs through his tracks. That is to say that for someone so young, That’s Juvey? (real name Kyle Owen) recognises that the music industry is a contrived and dangerous place: one he dissects and raps about with precise slices of spitting sarcasm. Speaking to him, he declared that he had “incorporated the idea of being the underdog in a competitive scouse scene into my music.”

He is part of a burgeoning scene of rappers who use the internet and YouTube channels to air their beats and bars. Channels such as UKUS and his own channel Little Raskal TV (based in Little Sutton and Ellesmere Port) co-ran with Blu Beatz are important mediums and representative of a changing industry.

On one such channel, the increasingly influential Lab TV, he successfully analyses the temptation to slip into a commercial coma “Downing beer, wearing chinos, rapping ‘bout my massive ego” before intricately outlining what might be considered his manifesto: “I am just me” – and this “me” is someone whose environment bleeds into his creative output.

This is music built on a foundation of Mersey-wit and grey boredom “They say we’re free but where we’re living makes it hard to succeed” and the two, wit and boredom; intertwine smartly in a series of shrewd tracks that fuse retro samples and modern concerns into an exciting sound, rooted in a rich heritage of influences. He commented “I value intricate patterns, complex rhyme schemes and originality as essentially important components of a good piece and thus artists such as Ghetts, Fliptrix, Jam Baxter, Big L, Big Pun, Rhyme Asylum were definitely people I looked up to.”

Interestingly, another influence on his sound came from stations on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – a particularly current way of discovering music, and another sign of the contemporaneity of his lyricism. Morrissey got his inspiration from Oscar Wilde, That’s Juvey? finds it in video games.

Twitter, the horse scandal, Britain’s Got Talent and hipsters are referenced in rhymes that twist and turn in quick seconds and though the temptation is to dump every young British rapper into an invented lump of hooded thugs, there is a deft intelligence in That’s Juvey?’s lyrics reminiscent of an ‘Original Pirate Material’ Mike Skinner.

If Skinner was The Streets then That’s Juvey? might well be considered The Street Corner, a place where humour and heartbreak collides on cold evenings in crumbling British towns.

We should gather round and listen.

FKA Twigs

Doomed and drowning in its own gloomy glow, the glorious sound of FKA Twigs is a woozy throb of confident youth.

It’s music to accompany the steady bloom of a flower or the slow motion collapse of a council block. Modern and melancholy and as impressive with supplementary images in compelling videos as it is through headphones with only pavement to peer at, her current output promises a potential direction for the UK music industry to move to, and for us consumers to groove to.

Her stunning ‘EP2’ showcases a rich exploration of textures and sonic patterns and like shimmering porcelain glimmers with strength and shadows intricate shape. The minimalist sway of Water Me spins in space like Kubrick’s ship and falls back to modern Britain bruised and raw and real.

He told me I was so small 
I told him water me 
I promise I can grow tall
When making love is free.

She sings, like Plath with piercings, a swooning declaration of swollen love that feels like forever and the future, like yesterday and tomorrow.

Expect her at every music awards ceremony in the world next year. She’ll be the one handling several golden statues and looking ethereal on the red carpet. Floating above stretched crimson with a lipstick pout matching the floor and wide eyes like sullen moons.

 

Joe Cole

In Matt Smith’s haunting directorial debut, Cargese, the perpetual grin of Joe Cole provides a portrait of skewed morality that most actors take a lifetime to successfully evoke. That it came so early in his career is testament to the talent of an actor whose recent run of performances have established him as “One to Watch”

That particular tagline doesn’t really do him justice though, especially as his recent activity includes work on the Emmy-winning The Hour and the elegant and gruesome Peaky Blinders.

Cole isn’t just “One to Watch”, he’s one to admire, one about to explode.

Despite piercing eyes and cheekbones that cut could glass, Cole’s propensity to opt for uncomfortable and uncompromising roles render him as anything but a typical star. His sited admiration for fellow Brit Tom Hardy might give an indication of the potential trajectory of the young actor.

That is to say that there is a ruthless streak evident in his current dramatic output that sees Cole consistently involved in innovative or original projects.

One of those projects is Peaky Blinders.

On Peaky Blinders, Cole, 24, plays John, the youngest member of Birmingham’s foremost feared family, The Shelbys, with a wild blend of sharp-suited bluster and dangerous doe-eyes. Widowed and weary but still laced with the cold malice that the Peaky Blinders built their reputation on, it’s an enormously mature performance that holds up against Hollywood heavyweights Sam Neil and Cilian Murphy and comes to represent a crucial part of the narrative arc.

Working alongside the likes of Smith, Neil and Murphy will only enhance the credibility afforded to Joe with the next co-megastar on the horizon Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, in a film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down. As well as this Cole has just completed filming Pressure, a film about a group of divers who get stuck under water in their diving bell when a storm on the ocean surface sinks their mother ship. Another genre, and a genuine thriller for Cole to sink his teeth into then, but for Cole pressure is only the title, not an overriding concern.

The time to print out pictures of him, declaring the rising star as your new favourite actor, is probably now.