The Washington, D.C. hardcore scene has always been defined by a certain raw intelligence that has been lacking in similar pockets of music around the country. The obvious progenitors, Minor Threat and, eventually, Fugazi, were the first to insist that their listeners really listen -- a total reaction to punk's contention that none of it meant anything at any level. The next generation of D.C. smart thrashers is best represented by Burning Airlines, a trio made up of respected scenester and guitarist J. Robbins (Government Issue/Jawbox), bassist Bill Barbot (Jawbox), and drummer Peter Moffett (Government Issue/Wool). The obvious direct line can be drawn from Dischord acts such as Fugazi and Lungfish, but Burning Airlines is just as familiar with the jagged, jerky punk rhythms of '70s art-wave bands such as Gang of Four and early XTC, as well as '80s agitpop like the Pixies and the brash punk-pop revolution of the '90s. After Burning Airlines' transcendent debut, last year's Mission Control!
, and an exhausting year of touring (including a just-completed European circuit), Robbins and company are, surprisingly, more than halfway done with a new album, having just completed basic tracks for nine new songs. It may be a while before any more work is done -- there are still more songs to be written, and Robbins is getting married next month, which may result in a little well-deserved downtime. Even with the band's grueling schedule and the prospect of a brief vacation, it's clear that Burning Airlines is driven to produce, whether it's on the road or in the studio.