Abe Vigoda responds to buzz with nicer noise 

A little-commented key to a vibrant local music scene is a good all-ages club where future jaded rockers can shed their naïveté while honing their chops.

No place is hotter this moment than Los Angeles' The Smell, which has hosted a mini-revolution with the anarchic experimental noise-pop of No Age, Mika Miko and Abe Vigoda. The three acts discovered and supported each other and the venue, helping fuel a scene that's suddenly seen the spotlight since last year's release of "Nouns," an underground sensation from L.A. punk duo No Age.

No Age's noisy kin, Abe Vigoda, is hot on its elders' heels. The barely drinking-age quartet bend clanging chaotic arrangements around insistent hooks, then send them downhill for a heart-racing rush. While there's long been a clamorous, contrapuntal undercurrent cutting across its pop sensibility, Vigoda's sound keeps evolving. With its latest release, last month's "Reviver" EP, the foursome stretches into smoother, less calamitous waters.

"We're getting over whatever the hang-up was over writing something that's more poppy in a traditional sense, even though to most people, it's not going to sound poppy, not conventionally," singer/guitarist Juan Velazquez said. "We're more comfortable now writing poppier songs that still have the aspect of getting noisier, experimental or whatever. I have a lot of fun writing songs like that."

'BARNEY MILLER' ACTOR
The group formed while the members were in high school, adopting the name of the famed "Barney Miller" actor, and began performing at The Smell four years ago. After a tour supporting Mika Miko, the members recorded their 2006 debut, "Kid City." Noisy, propulsive and strangely affecting, the album was partially influenced by the droning, clattering otherworldly grooves of Konono N°1.

"We were really inspired by those kind of sounds and rhythms," Velasquez said. "It was good for me because I hadn't really listened to world music before. It opened my ears."

Vigoda expanded sonically with last year's frenetic "Skeletons," further tightening the bolts on its shuddering yet sonorous sound riot, and followed that with the more polished "Reviver." Velazquez confirmed that three new tracks the group has recently written continue along this less-noisy trajectory.

"It's a little more dense sounding, maybe not as jarring, a little slowed down, and the vocals are a lot louder, with less screaming and more singing," he said. "They're poppier in a darker way, and not as happy sounding as 'Skeleton.' Even though those lyrics aren't necessarily happy, people associate the music with being joyous."

Although the newer albums have lost some of the abrasive, rattling edges, the same can't be said about the band's live show, which still packs plenty of spastic, passionate propulsion.

"It's still very noise and very, very loud live," Velazquez said. "I kind of like it when bands don't sound exactly the same live as they do on record. It's not intentional, but when we recorded, it's kind of harder to reproduce a lot of that stuff live and have it still be fun and exciting." "Chris Parker

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