Despite what national news or teen dramas might suggest, Los Angeles and Phoenix aren't so different. Sure, L.A. has an ocean, but it also has massive shopping centers, myriad freeways, and 80-degree Januarys.
So with two Los Angeles bands — Abe Vigoda and No Age — venturing onto Phoenix's turf this week, here's a primer on the Southern California acts embracing their manifest destiny.
Abe Vigoda. Named after America's second-favorite octogenarian (Betty White wins, natch), these guys started life as a unique "tropical" punk outfit, but have since taken a sharp left turn and embraced electropop. Their latest album, Crush, is filled with New Age-y mope. Fans and critics gave it mixed reviews, but the band did get to tour with Vampire Weekend, so it wasn't all bad for Abe Vigoda.
No Age. Turning 25 this year, Sub Pop is still managing to sign relevant indie acts. One such band is noisy duo No Age, whose second album, Everything in Between, was 13th on Pitchfork's best of 2010 list. Like Abe Vigoda, they came up playing at noted all-ages downtown L.A. venue The Smell. (Unlike in Phoenix, all-ages venues in L.A. are something of a novelty.)
Best Coast. In the "overnight success story of the past year," Best Coast went from gigging at SoCal venues to opening for Weezer and counting Bruce Springsteen among their famous fans. Led by coolly detached singer/guitarist Bethany Cosentino and such fuzzed-out singles as the mildly wistful "Boyfriend," Best Coast will take their next big step in April by playing the Coachella festival.
Local Natives. Originally from Orange County — home of Disneyland and sort of like the East Valley, but with beaches — Local Natives, as many bands tend to do, headed north and hit big in Los Angeles. Their 2010 album, Gorilla Manor, with its neatly polished folk rock, got all sorts of praise from all the right places, and the band found itself a staple on last year's festival circuit.
The Soft Pack. This quartet was originally known as The Muslims, a name that, not entirely surprisingly, inspired strong reactions from some. Formed in San Diego, The Soft Pack also moved to L.A. to find success, which came in the form of their bratty garage rock being embraced by blogs and international audiences.
Foster the People. For the past year, Foster the People has steadily built buzz on the strength of their infectiously catchy tune "Pumped Up Kicks." Clamor around the band has reached a fever pitch, with the MGMT-esque single gaining them mainstream radio airplay and, you guessed it, a spot at this year's Coachella.
Warpaint. While most of the bands on this list belong in the category of relatively straightforward verse/chorus/verse pop, Warpaint's psychedelic flair falls in the more experimental range. And in true L.A. style, Warpaint once counted a quasi-celebrity in their ranks. Shannyn Sossamon, whom you probably don't remember from films such as A Knight's Tale and The Rules of Attraction, was their original drummer. (Yes, they're playing Coachella this year, too.)
Avi Buffalo. Actually residents of nearby Long Beach — much like Snoop Dogg — Avi Buffalo (another Sub Pop signee) specializes in tongue-in-cheek, sexually charged songs, such as "Summer Cum" (also like Snoop Dogg, come to think of it). Like a deceptively ribald Shins, the youthful troupe snagged an opening slot with Modest Mouse last summer but were dealt a blow late last year when original members Rebecca Coleman and Arin Fazio left the group. But with front "man" Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg still barely out of high school, there's plenty of time to recapture their momentum.