(25 August 2012) The most recent release by the Austrian rock band Cornerstone is entitled Somewhere In America (Atom Records (USA) ATOM1711, 2011). Comprised of just ten tracks with a running time of a very tight 37 minutes, the recording has drawn significant attention across Europe and the rest of the world since release about one year ago. While there are other bands sharing the name, the Austrian band reviewed here owns the service mark for the name.
Cornerstone is presently fronted by vocalist Patricia Hillinger, who from the band's history appears to be their third singer. The current lineup is completed by Michael Wachelhofer (bass, keyboards, vocals); Steve Wachelhofer (guitars, vocals); and Mike Pawlowitsch (drums, percussion). A truly international project recorded in Vienna, Austria, the album was mastered in Pennsauken, NJ USA. From the CD's booklet, all songs were written by the Wachelhofer brothers except "Like A Stranger" where credit is shared with Patricia. Cornerstone's prior releases Head Over Heels (2008) and Fade Away (2010) were recorded a different drummer and lead vocalists.
Listeners will appreciate the growth in Cornerstone's sound since Patricia has joined the band. Her powerful vocals soar above crunching guitar-based arrangements. Backing harmonies add great texture to the memorable choruses in many of the band's tunes. While their debut album might be favorably compared to the latter work of Cosmic Stepping Stones, the Somewhere in America project is more densely produced and the vocal work literally shimmers atop the arrangements. Enthusiasts of Quecia and Sleeping Giant will be delighted to hear Cornerstone.
The band open their new album with the guitar-laden rocker "Stay." Here Patricia agressively delivers the arrangements with tremendous power never requiring the slightest multitracking to be at the top of the mix. Listen to the virtuousity of the individual players in this amazing opener. "Rise and Shine" continues in a similar vein, rhythmic guitars and keyboard washes providing the backdrop for lead guitar and wonderfully powerful vocal delivery.
Cornerstone produce a variety of sounds on Somewhere in America, and relax a bit in the easy sound of "Breathing For You," where the well-honed vocal talents of their lead singer shine through. Although not a rock song per se, the West End-styled ballad "Right or Wrong" is clearly one of the album standouts. Patricia's crystalline vocals soar over gentle guitar-based arrangements.
The standout rock song on the album is "Like A Stranger." Crunching guitar and crisp percussion are joined by keyboard washes underneath Patricia's soaring vocal delivery. Likely a crowd pleaser in the band's live performances, the chorus demands singing along. "Follow You, Follow Me" presents a sound akin to "Breathing For You" and almost serves as its bookend on the album.
In contrast, "Being Unaware" is a breezy and accessible indie-style song that illustrates yet another dimension of this outstanding band. "Oblivious is performed in a similar style characterised by brighter guitar work with an equally catchy melody.
Building on the sounds the band introduced on the album before it, "High and Low" is a very powerful stadium-style rocker certain to be most sought by enthusiasts in live performances. Listen for the backing harmonies and the outstanding guitar solo. The album concludes with "Strut" a crisply arranged ballad blending electric guitar and keyboard arrangements that back a final outstanding vocal performance by Patricia Hillinger.
The Cornerstone Somewhere in America album is available internationally at a variety of both online and brick
and mortar retailers. Signed to Atom Records, the album is available as a US domestic release. Even with its short running time, this is an excellent album.