: With just the right mix of harmonious melodies and poppy vocals, Athenaeum will put a smile on your face.
You want an example of how long it takes to actually "make it" in the music business? Seven years ago, Mark Kano and Nic Brown formed a band to play at Brown's middle school dance. Their set for the night included covers of the Eagles, Rush (what about the voice of Geddy Lee? How did it get so high?), and Led Zeppelin. Not bad for a middle school dance. Kano, now the lead singer of Athenaeum, is joined by Brown on the drums as well as Grey Brewster (bass) and Alex McKinney (guitar).
As the years went on, the band played regularly at Somewhere Else Tavern in their hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. They also found time to play other local parties and school functions. Eventually, they recorded a demo and a self-titled CD which caught the interest of those mega-cool people at Atlantic Records (whose golden anniversary CD contains tracks from such legends as Ray Charles, Cream, Derek and the Dominos, and Brandy).
I know what you're thinking. "Athenaeum: What a dumb name! Where did they get that?" The name comes from a literary society founded in Louisville, Kentucky, to which Nic's father belongs. Nic's mother, affectionately known as Ma Brown, convinced the band to use the name.
Now that we've played This is Your Life, what is Athenaeum's music like? The first track, "What I Didn't Know," will tell you all you need to know. It clicks in right away that you're listening to what would happen if Matthew Sweet wrote the music for Crash Test Dummies' next album (Whatever happened after "Afternoons and Coffeespoons?").
The pop continues with "Flat Tire," "Unnoticed," and "So Long." Radiance has another type of song on it: the slow, ballad-type song. "On My Mind" and "Away" are the worst offenders of this. While they show off Kano's vocal range and skill, they disrupt the poppy flow of the album. (If I say poppy one more time, shut me up.) Their grade could be higher, but the slow