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Demon daze 

Blake Rainey's Dangerous Summer

"I try to keep it minimal," says Blake Rainey of the decidedly subdued sound of his latest project. "It's still kinda pop to me. But it's lyric-based folk, too." And indeed, the music on his new album Dangerous Summer has a literate bent.

Billing his project as Blake Rainey and His Demons, the voracious reader was initially inspired by The Dangerous Summer, Ernest Hemingway's recount of the 1959 bullfighting season in Spain. But there's no Latin flavor to the collection of songs -- and no bullfighting -- though Rainey admits he did spar with his muse a bit to create some of the songs. "I'm really challenging myself now, more than ever," he continues. "I think I'm harder on myself about what I write now, just actively thinking more about it, and writing more story songs that I haven't heard anyone else do."

It's fitting that the stark and contemplative Summer is being released in the middle of winter. That ironic contrast permeates many of the songs on the disc. Quiet but resounding with instantly memorable melodies, the release is the perfect continuation of his bare-bones solo debut Appetizer Sickness, also released by Atlanta's Two Sheds Music.

On stage, the hushed songs exude an eerie resonance, hauntingly humming with muted drums and upright bass propelling the desolate vignettes. "It's still quiet," he cautions, "just not as quiet as the record."

Produced by Tim Delaney and Jimmy Ether, the project solidifies Rainey's place as one of Atlanta's best writers while pushing him even further away from the high-watt pop/Americana of his previous outfit, the Young Antiques, often compared to the Minneapolis-style rock of the Replacements. "Eventually the Demons will also rock more," he promises.

One thing is for sure, Rainey seems to have finally shaken the Replacements comparison. "And that's a good thing," he laughs.

Blake Rainey's CD release celebration is Thurs., Jan. 25, at the Earl. Day Mars Ray and the Bouldercrest Singing Group open. $7. 9 p.m.

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