MIRACLE CHOSUKE

The 7/8 Wonders of the World

(Dim Mak)

***

So many try it, but so few get it right. Uh-huh: the punk scum double-dipped in synth skree, then duct taped shut with screamy, urban angst and the willful collision of new-old technology (i.e. Commodore 64, y'all). Granted, it sounded better last summer, when Los Angeles quintet Miracle Chosuke had released only two mp3s, and back before every boy band with a sideways trucker cap and a Korg started sweating noodly, futuristic, keyb-rhythmic punk rock out their macrobiotic asses. But this sounds the best to me; these fellas were like 19 when they wrote the songs, and there's a lot to be said for the pheromonal raging of youth. At the same time, their dynamic, multidimensional guitar noodling is hooked on musical maturity, suggesting a desire to carry the concepts behind Yes into the computer age. What's mostly lacking in similar acts is the ability to write good songs; for five tots on a virtual mini-thin binge, M.C. is doing just fine. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

CLEM SNIDE

Soft Spot

(SpinART)

***

Well, duh: the record is called Soft Spot, people. Did you expect anything but an album's worth of soft-rock ballads and porch-lit sing-alongs? Clem Snide are from Brooklyn, which makes them an hour and a half subway ride away from being the next Yo La Tengo. Which is a good thing, seeing as Ira and the fam have spent far too much time lately running around Hoboken, chasing a cloud with no silver lining. While indie rock's sweetest geezers sweat their pension plans, lead Clem Eef Barzelay can be found singing sun-bathed songs that actually sound like summer, crafting odes to Al Green while his flip flops dangle off his toes. Soft Spot may not be the feel-good hit of the year, but its sad despair still hits you where it feels good; romantically strumming your heartstrings while doing a moon dance until dawn. TREVOR KELLEY

STEWART WALKER & GEOFF WHITE

Discord

(Force Inc.)

***

On the ironically titled Discord, these American techno elites pass WAV file batons to each other in a sonic relay race in which both contestants (and listeners) win. Walker and White segue the disc's 13 tracks as if they're cogs in one big machine, whose purpose is to school you in the subtle ways of intelligent sound design. White, a fast-rising, minimal techno star, composes tracks that glide elegantly or bop choppily in 4/4 while wreathed in luxurious melodies and 21st-century digital minutiae. His well-modulated, Detroit-informed music works a treat on dance floors and headphones. Walker's been releasing hypnotic, IDM-ish techno since 1997, including 1999's Stabiles on Force Inc. As evidenced on Discord, White's the hopeful dreamer while Walker's the less sanguine pragmatist. Together, W&W complement each other with precisely engineered beats and acutely sculpted tones. DAVE SEGAL

**** Prosciutto

*** Black Forest Ham

** Pepper-Back Bacon

* Spam