Upstate Spotlight - Walrus Junction: Somnium

>> Walrus Junction displays a knack for writing catchy, illuminating, psychedelic cuts on this fantastic new sample platter of an EP.

Walrus Junction is a five-piece psychedelic rock outfit based in Rochester, New York. Comprised of current music students and alumni from Nazareth College, they feel like a shining example of what the best college bands are; young people experimenting together and evolving a project to learn all they can, and have fun doing it. On their first and latest effort, 'Somnium,' Walrus Junction deliver an EP that combines a healthy smattering of the sonic and aesthetic influence of psych rock with their own ability to fill up a song with smart, fun, and catchy songwriting.

As with most college bands, you can really tell their influences by the lyrics, riffs, and overall approach of Walrus Junction’s sound. For this group, it’s 70’s psychedelic mixed with what seems to be the best of the pop ballads of the 80’s. On 'Somnium,' released in late September of last year, this is evident right out of the gate with “Raggedy Ann," a song that fires at all cylinders with a hearty instrumental buildup and short, catchy introduction that leads into vocalist Ignatius Marino’s emblematic voice bursting onto the track. There’s a uniqueness and beauty to how he sings, and the gruff approach you usually expect with this aesthetic is subverted instead with a soaring, charismatic approach that is unlike many things I’ve heard before.

The sounds that are established on this first track are consistent throughout the rest of the EP, highlighting the moods the band is going for throughout the album. Themes of love, nostalgia, and longing are extremely prevalent here, along with the devices of lovers, memories, and change. Underneath all of that is some incredibly strong instrumentation. Using the second track, “Good Loving In The City" as an example, these elements are blended incredibly well. The guitars are just pounding and strumming away here under every cut, and while its a very traditional approach, it really works.

When the band continues to a quieter, swaying cut like “Ghost Town," and the piano comes in and brings the track to a different direction, you feel the versatility of the group to remain within their decided lane while still experimenting with new ideas. Additionally, the vocals in this track lend a beautiful finishing to the album. There’s a heavy focus on refrains throughout the project, which can often times feel a little repetitive, but as demonstrated on “Wait," there’s a hypnotic quality to all the elements coming together that sees them through, which contrasts very well with a more slamming, fuzzy track like “Blood On The Streets."

What Walrus Junction does best is combine a lot of different details and ideas to create a consistent sampler of who they are, and on 'Somnium,' they do it very well. Every musician is incredibly competent, and they’re smart enough to know to keep things simple, and only show off at the right moments. The songwriting and performance is incredibly strong, and while the mix occasionally feels a little to clean and does the gruffier, fuzzier, moments a disservice, the talent of these guys really shines through. The result is a fantastic introduction to a promising group of young musicians. <<

Listen to 'Somnium' HERE!

Connect with Walrus Junction on: