Friday Nostalgia: Athenaeum’s Radiance

Posted by Greg on Mar 25, 2022 in Music |


For reasons only known to my cranial jukebox I have been stuck down the earmworm hole of the music of Athenaeum. A nearly flawless 90s pop-rock outfit that lasted all of four years they soared to some pretty titanic heights. Single “What I Didn’t Know” landed on the Billboard Hot 100, soaring as high as 58. “Un-noticed,” another single from their Raidance album was used in the film Varsity Blues. The song “Flat Tire”, also from Radiance was a big hit in the Philippines. They toured with the likes of Semisonic, Matchbox Twenty, Collective Soul, Foo Fighters and hordes of others.

The lure of Athenaeum was vocalist Mark Kano’s soaring baritone vocals, driving guitars, catchy choruses and a sound that was both arena and radio-ready. There was a bit of post-grunge guitar work too to give them a jagged edge and a staple at alt-rock radio. After the commercial and critical success of Radiance, the band’s self-titled follow up was equally as strong. Shortly after the band announced they were calling it quits they released a b-sides collection called Hourglass which continues the band’s forward momentum. Eventually the desire to pursue other creative projects won out and the band dissolved.

Kano has not released music in nearly a decade but his solo albums are quite spectacular. Whether its 2011’s Band in the Box or 2009’s Walking on Broadway his baritone vocals, his ear for melody and polish remain intact. Now in his late 40s, married with two children and a landscaper in Guilford County Kano is retreating into the back half of life.

While he still gigs as his schedule allows and produces projects when asked the reality is that his musical footprint appears to be waning. For that reason the urge to listen to his music remains that much more important. Sure Athenaeum does the one-off reunion gig here and there but these days they are few and far between and have not performed since before the COVID pandemic.

While it may be a bit cliched and trite, there’s a line Paula Abdul used to say repeatedly on American Idol, “I could listen to you sing the phone book.” There are few times it applies but when it comes to Mark Kano, it fits.


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