Being a huge Jawbox fan, this was one of the most anticipated releases in a while for me. I listened to the Carnival/Scissoring 7” relentlessly for months before this hit the shelves. At first, though, I was disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe it was the fact that I thought the two songs on the 7” were also the best songs on Mission: Control! But I kept listening. And listening. Before I knew it, I knew the words to the first five songs, and melodies were indelibly etched in my head. So, as is the case with most great records, while I was deciding whether or not I liked it, I fell in love with it.
For Jawbox fans, Mission: Control! should be a real pleaser; it’s not too much of a departure. I don’t miss the second guitar like I expected. Bill Barbot has made an amazing transition from guitar to bass; he plays bass lines, not wannabe guitar riffs. J. Robbins now handles most all guitar duties and still does most of the vocals. Peter Moffett, who played with J. in Government Issue, drums with a sort of forward-moving, lilting quality that adds backbone and dimension. I actually think the three-piece format frees these guys up. You can hear just about everything they’re doing and with all the musical twists and turns, you’ll want to.
The great thing about BA, as was the case with Jawbox, is that they can radiate so many things at once. They’re rock. They’re pop. They’re rhythmically innovative without being prog-like. But, mostly, they’re a punk band with a glass belly. No matter how hard-hitting the music gets, there’s always that fragility there, which makes the songs so human, so impactive.
It’s not surprising to me that BA is not too much different than Jawbox. These are people making the music they want to make, not some premeditated concept or media-ready fabrication. It’s pretty impossible to listen to (or review!) this record without invoking comparisons to past bands. These three punk veterans have been around a while and it shows. Burning Airlines do stand well on their own though. As their online bio says, this is the record these three have been waiting a long time to make. Jump on this horse before it’s a bandwagon.
DeSoto Records, P.O.Box 60335, Washington, DC 20039; http://www.his.com/~desoto/