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by Carey Murphy and Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & The Flaming Lips & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp; & quot; & At War With the Mystics & lt;/a & 3 STARS & r & Our favorite love-rockers return to assuage some fears with their latest collection of songs. However, the album is neither as cohesive as The Soft Bulletin nor as visionary as Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

The limitations of the album -- those things that make it good, but not great -- come from the Lips' creation of a "political" album. Certainly this falls into the concept category of their other successful works, but the politics here more often get in the way. Take "Free Radicals (A Hallucination of the Christmas Skeleton Pleading with a Suicide Bomber)," for example. Silly, excessively long title aside, the point is made before the track even begins. The same goes for "The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)," even though the guitar-fuzz here redeems the political grandstanding.

Mystics is not nearly weird enough. Wayne Coyne & amp; Co. are far more effective as artistic provocateurs than political rabble-rousers. Too bad they've been distracted. -- Carey Murphy

Band of Horses & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp; & quot; & Everything All The Time & lt;/a & 3 STARS & r & Willamette Week called Band of Horses "your new favorite band." It wasn't an endorsement, just a statement of fact. A few well-placed words by a few disembodied Web scenesters, some viral (that is, MySpace-based) marketing, and you're in like the Arctic Monkeys. Hype, in this digital age, is a hell of a thing: powerful, fickle, unpredictable -- and often way off-base.

It's happened again with Band of Horses, and all the usual suspects are involved. Pitchfork loves them. They have 2,300-odd friends (including, I admit, me) since mid-February. And, unsurprisingly, they're hot like cross buns. Good. Fine. Except this is a thoroughly average album. The first three tracks build to a harmonic crescendo before "The Funeral" disassembles the whole thing into lovely low monotony. From there, though, it gets more monotonous and decidedly less lovely. Everything All the Time isn't a bad album. It's just an average effort from two dudes who sound a lot like a lot of other people. -- Luke Baumgarten
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