This Washington, D.C., group (which takes its name from an old Brian Eno song) took off at the end of 1998, continuing the momentum -- and one-half of the personnel -- of the beloved band Jawbox. Blending shades of Gang of Four, Pixies, and even XTC into a wiry, angular post-punk potency, Burning Airlines has patented the most deliciously complicated two-part harmonies and guitar algorithms around. The loss of bassist Bill Barbot this year took some wind out of the band's sails (and much of its bouncy melodicism) but leaves the new Identikit with typically cynical songwriting intact. New four-stringer Mike Harbin brings some raw power to the engine room, even if Burning Airlines may have to train him to exhibit some of the subtlety needed to stay its crafty course.
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