I don't own an iPod. Lately I've been feeling as though this puts me in the same category as those who don't own cell phones or DVD players. I may be missing out on "the future," but I'm finally starting to realize and embrace the impact the internet and digital file sharing is having on music.
Case in point: Fujiya & Miyagi. They have the makings of being the Next Big Thing: a band name that is immediately forgettable yet ultimately memorable, a vagueness about who they actually are (a three-piece from England, none of them named either Fujiya or Miyagi), and a critically acclaimed new record, Transparent Things, which has a sound that is—albeit slightly derivative—overwhelmingly individualistic and catchy. They write songs that do not hide their influences: A handful of Neu!-inspired Kraut tracks, the fun and danceable (read: non-boring) Stereolab tunes, and the fuzzed-out handclap-laden funk songs of fellow Brits Hot Chip. All that's missing from their Next Big Thing equation is the humorous video of them dancing on treadmills and a DFA remix.
Decades ago Fujiya & Miyagi may have landed on deaf ears, only meaning something to the few lucky enough to stumble across them or tenacious enough to seek them out. But because we're living in an age where information is so readily available, they find themselves on the cusp of breaking out into the mainstream. Style filters and scenes are slowly dying, and musical movements that at one time might have taken years of dedication to learn about now can be discovered simply by Googling a band you read about on Pitchfork. This assimilation may be hard on the self–image of pretentious record snobs, but it also means bands have the ability to broaden their reference points and are churning out music that is not just a repetitive imitation of the same six bands. Fujiya & Miyagi benefit from this larger pool of inspiration, and their success is going to prove the worth of what "the future" has to offer.