An alternative rock band hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina. Athenaeum1 play a mellower, more melodic type of rock than many of their contemporaries. Their albums consistently receive positive reviews, but they remain mostly unknown.
Athanaeum was formed in 1990, when its members were still in high school, and was initially composed of Mark Kano on lead vocals and guitar, Grey Brewster on backing vocals and guitar, Alex McKinney on bass, and Nic Brown on drums.
In 1995, Athenaeum independently released their self-titled debut album (referred to as "The Green Album" to prevent confusion with their later eponymous release).
The band signed with Atlantic Records the following year and in 1998 released Radiance, which yielded a Top 10 modern rock single, "What I Didn't Know". After the release of Radiance, Brewster left the band.
Athenaeum's self-titled second Atlantic album was released in 2001. Athenaeum was hailed by some as the best alternative rock album of the year, but got almost no promotion. It was recorded mostly as a three-piece band, with Mike Garrigan of Collapsis performing backing vocals on one song. Garrigan was later recruited as the band's second guitarist. Also around this time, Brown left the band to attend university and was replaced by Jeremy Vogt.
In 2002, Athenaeum left Atlantic and released their fourth album, Hourglass, on their own Athenaeum Records with distribution by Redeye. Hourglass was a collection of rarities and outtakes dating back to the band's founding.
Update, February 2004: Kano, on Athenaeum's website, has announced the group's breakup. Alas.
Athenaeum albums tend to be somewhat difficult to find (at least in the U.S.), especially at chains such as Sam Goody. Larger stores tend to have one or two of the in-print albums, but rarely all three. The hunt can be somewhat irritating, but ultimately very well worth it.
Official site: http://www.athenaeum.net
1. Pronounced "ath-A-nee-um", as any number of web sites, as well as a sticker attached to Radiance's shrink-wrapping, will tell you.