Appetizer Sickness - TWO SHEDS MUSIC

In his role as leader of the Young Antiques, Blake Rainey offers a hi-wattage amp blast of pop rock and revved-up Americana. But on Appetizer Sickness, a solo Rainey sorts through a dusty photo album of sepia-toned, often melancholy imagery. The final product is an album of recollections: some disjointed, some allegoric and all immediately memorable.

Displaying the same knack for clever wordplay and impeccable melodies as when he's with the 'Tiques, Rainey jettisons his penchant for rocking out and instead sits knowingly in a rocking chair, tossing off sly Southern-fried sketches of a humid humanity like a kinder, gentler Lee Hazelwood. Diana Obscura, No River City and other guests contribute wonderfully understated accompaniment as Rainey's inescapable pop instincts keep the collection from becoming a morose wake. On the cover, rain obscures the Atlanta skyline, but upon closer inspection, the droplets are blood red, mirroring the deceptive nature of this project. It's as fresh as a spring rain, but it foreshadows an underlying electrical storm.

Rainey's tales of love lost ("Feelings Go South") and misguided souls ("Daydream Fields," and the title track) resonate with a wizened and slightly jaded tone. The disjointed nature of the snapshots actually makes a cohesive, seamless listen. Like any good Southern gothic observer, Rainey knows that less is more. His shoebox of faded photos offers just enough information to keep you listening and filling in the blanks.

-- Lee Valentine Smith

Blake Rainey plays the 10 High at 10 p.m., Sat., June 12. $8.