From Arlington Heights with Love
Like Summer cohered at a tightly conservative school in the middle of Western Pennsylvania farm country, not exactly a nurturing rock-n-roll haven. Drummer Dan Harding, the first to hear lyricist Steve Gretz's well-crafted songs, determined that the world should know them. Bassist Trevor Baker and guitarist/keyboard player Ben Hardt rounded out the group. After deliberating for five frustrating months over a name, the group settled on the title of a Gretz original: "Like Summer." Band members graduated in waves from college, moving to Pittsburgh, PA and beginning the arduous task of coordinating practice sessions and gigs for members living over an hour apart from each other. This trend would continue throughout Like Summer's history, interrupted by only three seasons of cohabitation in Pittsburgh. Despite the distance, two EPs were released, whetting fans' appetites for more with the promise of a full-length release to come. When the last college degree was finally bestowed, Like Summer moved into a house in Pittsburgh's Arlington Heights neighborhood to record their next album. Juggling odd jobs, band members continued to gig in Pittsburgh and beyond, returning home to the demands of eking out a living and the incessant call of the recording ahead. Gretz found himself sleeping over, under, and sometimes curled around the recording equipment that crowded his room and spilled out into the house's furniture-bereft living room. This tangle of amplifiers, drum kits, organs, guitars, and microphones bore an album that would invite listeners to enter into the band's world. Though a season's jumbled togetherness created the beginning of a beautiful project, Like Summer again faced the challenges of geographical distance. Bandleader Gretz moved back home to the New Jersey suburbs while the other three musicians remained in Pittsburgh; the recordings, unfinished, had to be mixed by mail. The long-awaited album, From Arlington Heights, With Love, was finally released on May 6, 2006, to a capacity crowd at Club Café on Pittsburgh's Southside. Eleven songs deftly navigate the depths of despair, tempered with the euphoria of redemption. Shimmering guitars and pounding piano octaves from opening track "Soon" set the pulse for the album's driving rock tunes. "Black Coffee In The Afternoon" romps with a whirling Hammond organ while the humble acoustic of "I'm A Fake" sets aching melodies loose in a wash of sobering feedback. Mysterious noises summon the melancholy "Moving On," yet the album crescendos to a rousing chorus of earnest voices before peacefully fading away. With the achievement of From Arlington Heights, With Love, Like Summer continues to defy the miles between them, inviting fans into a world of depth and desire, and promising more heart rending beauty to come.