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MUSIC REVIEW

Athenaeum

Mellow Rock Group Returns with Second Album

By Akshay Patil

staff writer

One of the best little bands in America has finally released their sophomore effort for inspection. Athenaeum’s Athenaeum establishes the maturity and longevity of this band, and may give them a second crack at national prominence.

In 1998, Athenaeum’s first album, Radiance, made a modest debut; doing well and receiving air time for its first single “What I Didn’t Know.” The single turned some heads, but not enough to make Athenaeum a great sensation. This was truly tragic, considering how outstanding an album Radiance is. Despite wonderful reviews by most critics, Radiance failed to really get off the ground.

Luckily Athenaeum has stuck with it, and they’re new album is almost as good as the first (Radiance is hard to match though) and has some tracks which may breathe some more life into Athenaeum’s chances for celebrity.

Since I’m sure most of you have never heard of Athenaeum, let me give you a brief introduction to the band. The band’s style is hard to classify, the best I can come up with is mellow rock. In a world of Korn and Powerman 5000, anything not in your face comes off sounding quieter and calmer than it would have three years ago. Their lyrics fall in between the two extremes of utter abstraction (think Pink Floyd) and explicit message (think pop music).

The first single off of the album, “Comfort” is a catchy tune about somehow searching for love and getting drunk at the same time.

Somehow I know what Mark Kano (the lead singer) is trying to get at, but it’s hard to describe the song in a sentence or two. Anyways, the point of this song is that it’s great and all, but probably won’t catch the attention of anyone not already listening for Athenaeum. The best song on the album, and hopefully their second single, is the first track entitled “Suddenly.”

Stylistically a throwback to their first album (which my sister refuses to give back to me even though its mine, damn it), “Suddenly” deals with personal discovery and self-acceptance. With lyrics like “Out into the hall/ I never really thought that I was anything at all/ Until I saw the person in the mirror on the wall/ Staring back at me,” the song sets the tone for the album with its catchiness and contemplative nature.

The only bad thing about this album is how hard it is to get your hands on it. I tried a variety of local record shops who all told me that their computer said they had it, but that no one could find it. I ended up buying the album online and it was worth the anxious week of waiting for it to show up in my mailbox.

So go out and buy Athenaeum or Radiance if you can get your hands on either. You won’t be disappointed. If you want just a taste, check out their web site <www.athenaeum.net>, as they are rather good at making their songs available for your listening pleasure.