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Trenton, New Jersey, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2002 | SELF

Trenton, New Jersey, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2002
Band Alternative Rock




"Review - Avra "In Other People's Eye's""

Avra’s biographic details claim that the band formed after attending a Chameleons gig in 2002. This is certainly a promising indicator for the New Jersey band’s own take on the post-punk sound.

The first three songs present a gothic and earnest start but do sound a little dated thanks largely to the lack of subtlety and space. It’s as Avra are trying a little too hard to impress. Light relief eventually arrives via ‘Cellophane’; the frontman apparently singing about ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ but the slower pace and less busy production result in a more inclusive experience. Another mid-paced track, ‘Reconcile’, brings in the strings but the group carry off the endeavour with some panache and from there, the confidence the band clearly possess is backed up with better arrangements. ‘Return’ and ‘Strap Discipline’ certainly tick all the right boxes for urgency and intensity whilst ‘In Other People’s Eyes’ is the closest the group get to achieving the melodramatic sound of their Mancunian heroes. They also save one of their best songs to the end, courtesy of the chiming, cascading melodies of ’4am’.

‘In Other People’s Eyes’ definitely displays the same self-belief and passion as The Chameleons but almost inevitably the band fall short of their status. No matter, it’s an album which stands up in its own right and has that rare quality of sounding better the further you get into it. - Leonards Lair

"AVRA’s dark opus is well worth the listen"

Rock music is changing. Bands are becoming more diverse in their choice of genres and the general soundscape is becoming increasingly Lynchian. Layers upon layers of reverb and other effects are creating tracks that utilize a thick soundscape to produce new and exciting palettes of sound.

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, of Mars Volta fame, has followed this technique avidly in his prodigious quantity of solo LPs. Now, more and more bands are beginning to utilize these layers of ambient effects and sound. AVRA’s debut LP is a perfect example of this cacophonous layering of reverb and delay effects.

AVRA, led by front man Stellios Maroulis, have put together an interesting record. Paul Scozzari, who just recently earned his graduate degree in Educational Administration last December from the College, is also a member of the band.

AVRA’s debut album opens up with “Engineer,” a perfect example of how rock music is becoming more progressive in its musical expressions. Its once sparse opening soon kicks into a driving beat with its energy growing throughout the course of the piece. AVRA displays the obvious truth that bands are beginning to get bored with the typical verse, chorus, verse, chorus and then throw-in-a-bridge song structures.

Throughout the record Maroulis channels a Morrison-like, dark inflection that often curls in and out of the music. His lyrics are heavy, often reflecting the pained emotions in the music. There is great interplay here, oftentimes lyrics can get lost in the music, but with AVRA the words flow with the music.

The mood will often shift throughout AVRA’s songs as ghostly guitar lines splatter “Cellophane” with reverb that seems to transmit sounds as dark and distant as the subtle pains expressed in Maroulis’s lyrics, which often find their most power in a crescendo effect.

The great strength of Avra is in their dark, post-punk inflections. One could say many of their songs reflect the setting in which their art was conceived — a humble house in the middle of the desolution that is a Trenton suburb.

While at first it may seem that AVRA’s lyrics hang on the typical angst-ridden emotions characteristic to the post-punk genre, their messages are often more complex and even political. For instance,

“White Hall” is about the current geo-political issues facing our world.

To some listeners, AVRA’s sound may seem a little too heavy with emotion, but that doesn’t mean their heaviness is their weakness. Perhaps it means that their audience will be more selective.

Though I must admit that I felt AVRA hung out on one emotion for too long, which makes their album somewhat repressive when listened to from start to finish. This isn’t to say that their consistency is an utter weakness. Oftentimes bands develop many great ideas only to put together a record as convoluted and varied as a Pollock painting. AVRA have done the complete opposite, their sound is mature and developed, yet there are too few moments when the mood brightens.

“Reconcile” does achieve this change of mood. As the lyrics shift to a thematic idea of finding common ground between two lovers, the guitars take a change of pace from their usual dissonant, reverb –drenched guitar lines to more bright tonalities and major chords.

The great interplay between the piano and guitars on “Strap Discipline” is something ill-achieved by many rock bands, as the instruments are very similar in how they relate to the overall scope of the band’s sound. AVRA achieves a necessary balance with their instrumentation. It’s a refreshing record when you can tell the musicians are playing to the song, not to their own insular musings.

So, if you enjoy the types of bands that have influenced AVRA, you will no doubt enjoy this debut LP. It is a well-crafted and thoroughly produced record and is filled with plenty of gems with lots of replay value.

AVRA are currently looking foward to doing promotional shows in the tri-state area, so if you like what you hear, be sure to check out their social media at facebook.com/avraband. You can also score a free download of their music by emailing them at avraband@gmail.com. - The Signal (College of New Jersey Student Newspaper)

"Avra harnesses the sound of Trenton"

In its early days as a band in Trenton, post-punk AVRA’s first critics were less than flattering. Equipment was stolen and cops were called on practice sessions, leading to police describing AVRA as “ruining the quality of life.” Listening to AVRA’s debut album “In Other People’s Eyes,” it’s surprising that the quality of life in Trenton could be imperiled by music that sounds so much like the city.

AVRA, formed in 2002, christens itself a band born in a “third world” town on the cusp of recession. Indeed, the invigorating melancholy that drives the album highlights the “post” in AVRA’s “post-punk,” a reflection of a town that has found itself in a “post-world” state of mind. In AVRA’s post-Golden Age, post-America conception of America, vague urban imagery is conjured by vocals drowned in melodic turbulence, echoing the subdued desperation of the Jersey concrete jungle.

Opening the curtain on AVRA’s debut is “Engineer,” one of many ambient tracks in which the band establishes its tendency to use ambiguity and snippets of disconnected storytelling. “Engineer” foreshadows a hypnotic, introspective album that is all about navigating through guitar-driven, occasionally synth-y mental fog. Unfortunately, AVRA attempts storytelling in ways that lead the intrigued listener to dissatisfaction. With lyrics that don’t get much more specific than “I can get out past the waves/Until the point where I can see for miles/Beyond the flooding of the waves,” the listener is often left with a general notion of a song’s message but without the filling details and sparked curiosity that make a song memorable.

In tracks like “Reconcile” and “The Gates,” AVRA channels one of its prime influences, The Smiths, as lead singer Stellios Maroulis relates emotional lyrics with distant vocals that almost seem to glide right over the subject matter. Maroulis’ vocals could be likened to those of post-hardcore band Sparta’s lead singer, Jim Ward, in that they effortlessly flit between soothing detachment and belted desperation. A particularly memorable example of this is “Return,” a catchy, modern tune with an indie sing-along quality.

Much of “In Other People’s Eyes” concerns itself thematically with love and personal relationships, as demonstrated on “Strap Discipline” and “Control Myself,” though the band does approach issues with more global weight, as with the recurring image of a young soldier in “The Gates.” The piano-driven closing track “4 AM” carries the listener out softly yet conclusively, again mirroring the uplifting calm of the Manchester scene that spawned acts like Joy Division and, of course, The Smiths. Appropriately, “4 AM” exudes quiet reflection, setting the stage for Maroulis’ most inspiring vocal performance of the album.

The whole of “In Other People’s Eyes” sounds of introspection and desperation, easily invoking images of highways and concrete. The album is serene and filled with longing, with a lyrical variety that shows the band’s eagerness to follow in the footsteps of the globally-minded U2, another of its primary influences. Though sometimes too vague and dispassionate to gain the interest of genuine listeners, “In Other People’s Eyes” shows AVRA’s ability to fill up a room with an atmospheric approach to Jersey storytelling.

Readers can download “In Other People’s Eyes” for free by emailing the band at AVRAband@gmail.com. - The Whit (Rowan University Student Newspaper)


In Other People's Eyes - April 2012


Breathing's Autonomic - March 25th 2020




AVRA - ruining the quality of life since 2002.

AVRA hails from Trenton, NJ. Not exactly a place you'd look to find a band that draws influences from the Manchester post punk scene of the 70's and 80's. Guitar solo's are plenty but what the band really wants to do is groove, reggae style. AVRA  have been recognized as the alternative sound that best represents Trenton. Tom Ciccone of The Signal (TCNJ) wrote "The great strength of AVRA is in their dark, post-punk inflections. One could say many of their songs reflect the setting in which their art was conceived a humble house in the middle of the desolation that is a Trenton suburb."   In 2002 founding members Chris Pylaras, Stellios Maroulis and Doug Degaetano went to see the UK band The Chameleons. Immediately after the show they formed a band and started making music with a sound that was introverted, complex.  Back then the bands practice space kept getting robbed and the neighbors were calling the cops because the band was "ruining the quality of life" as one Trenton police officer put it. 

Band Members