The Theory: The Theory (Self-released) 

Jazz-indie-rock quartet The Theory has been kicking around Tucson for a few years, and finally, a full-length CD is arriving in time for Christmas.

The band comprises members from different geographies—drummer Aleksey Vays is Ukrainian; singer Anastasia Gorbunova is Russian; and keyboardist Jon Powell and bassist Alaric Weber are from the United States. This distinctive melting pot of backgrounds can be heard in everything The Theory delivers, from the spooky Eastern European guitar chords of "Warrior of the Light" to the atmospheric, quasi-polka stomp of "Only Love." Each performance offers a perfect blend of musicianship and pop savvy at a level usually reserved for artists like Norah Jones. Gorbunova's voice burns brightly.

For whatever reasons, though, The Theory self-produced rather than hire, say, Tucson-based Wavelab guru Craig Schumacher. It's almost a missed opportunity, because the music sounds stunning. Choices in instrumentation are always on target, even if the results might lack the special touch someone like Schumacher regularly demonstrates. Example: "Beyond Everything" and "I Have Given to You" are so similar in arrangement that they initially sound, well, the same—that is, until you hear the awesome chorus of each tune. As addictive as The Theory becomes after many listens, the band could perhaps benefit from an outside producer.

Regardless, this CD is an ideal stocking-stuffer.

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