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Shimmer - Luna Halo (2000)

Equation: two guitarists of the now-defunct Reality Check plus two of their friends to fill the vacant rhythm section equals an outfit that makes a nice debut, but are obviously music freshman, right? Wrong—with Luna Halo, the whole is greater than the sum of all its parts, and Shimmer works as both a pop, rock, and worship album. First track "Aliens" emits a swarthy meditation on panting for purity of mind and motive. Following that, one of the new millennium's first truly great singles, "Superman" encroaches on listeners' starry-eyed infatuation, reminding: "If I could fly...why would I be standing here?" The Luna Halo sound works as well on the unhurried tracks "Carry Me" and "Forgiveness" as it does on the agitated "Wait for You." Nathan Barlowe's vocal force is upheld capably by Jonny MacIntosh (guitar, keys), Brad Minor (bass), and Jonathan Smith (drums, percussion). For all its mix of power pop, praise, and electronica, Shimmer is first and foremost a guitar album, with Barlowe and MacIntosh's sleek, psychotic riffs having the final say in almost every song. After the band petitioned their friend Martin Smith to write a song, "Hang On to You" was born. A mold-breaking cut of reliance and expectancy, the song is best expounded by this line: "Looking out like a little child ~ Holding tight when it all gets wild." The grappling refute "So Far" is a telling lead-in to "Running Away," an abandonment of a satisfying, self-led life in light of a new contingence on God. Airy yet jagged, "Beautiful" exemplifies Luna Halo's suspension of sonic resolve with the contention of minor-key verses with the decisive chorus. Quickly becoming my personal fave, track 11 weeps with ire and dejection as it watches a "Complacent" friend grow content with his own life and standing. Again mingling sentiment and persuasion, "The Way to Your Heart" articulates salvation and conciliation with one who's "lost the will to fight." Grasping for maturity and affinity despite loss, the Shimmer of Luna Halo's reflections is unmistakable, a blinding recognition of Jesus as all that matters. The Luna Halo guys also show great maturity, tightness, and promise as one of the premiere, and sorely-needed new modern rock bands in Christian music.