Regular readers will already be familiar with Hearts & Knives, our favorite Saskatchewan synth-rockers, whose singles “Braggadocio,” “It Is What It Is,” and “Florence Nightingale” have been featured here at GDW. Founded by Steven Eisler (vocals/keyboards) and Robert Lane (bass), the duo are joined on this occasion by Ethan Bender (guitars) and Eder Garzona (percussion) with their brand new release, “The Rising Son.” Working once again with producer David Roman at Roman Empire Studios in Regina, and with some finishing touches added by David Cottin at DC Audio Mastering, “The Rising Son” was released on June 21st.
Opening with a simple drum beat, accentuated with timely cymbal crashes, the addition of whispering keys and ringing guitar riffs not only set the tone, but prompt Eisler’s powerful, yet distinctly passionate vocals. As a personal homage to his grandfather Richard Eisler, the trusted role model in his life, Steven faced incredible challenges in writing and articulating the love and respect he holds deeply for his father-figure. “This song is extremely important to me and was a struggle to get perfect,” he admits. “Many thanks to [the band] for being so patient and helpful … [they] made this song so much better than I could ever make it on my own.” Steven may have supplied the vision, but between band-mates, Roman and Cottin, the result here is a stunning single that, for me, is quite easily their finest achievement to date.
“This track is very orchestral, but very positive, and has a ton of synth,” shares Eisler. “It started with Ethan basically noodling a pentatonic scale during a jam session, and I loved how it sounded and knew we could do something with it. After completing an instrumental demo, I recognized the heavy Asian feel to it, and thought that ‘The Rising Sun’ could be a good title and base to build from.” It was only a matter of time before Steven discovered that he had the foundation completed for an idea he had long been exploring; a strong desire to honor his grandfather through a self-penned composition. “Richard was essentially my dad growing up, unlike my absentee father who took off when he learned my mom was pregnant with me,” he continues. “So I put a twist on the title and renamed it “The Rising Son,” in an attempt to articulate how I’m trying hard to walk in my grandpa’s shoes.”
Listen carefully to the verses and chorus, where the love and respect is not only evident, but is beautifully wrapped with some outstanding accompaniment from all four musicians. And how about the lyrics that form the bridge: “I struggle every day with whether or not I can / how can I possibly compare myself to this man? / You can. I can. You can.” I’m struggling for words at this point, but with my own similar life experience of this nature, I can fully appreciate and feel both the love and emotional outpouring from Eisler here. “Richard Eisler will always be my idol, which is why I put so much pressure on myself with this one” Steven states proudly. “I’d hoped to release the single on his birthday, May 8th, but due to some other circumstances going on in my life, it took me a little while longer.” As “The Rising Son” winds down, be sure to not miss Ethan’s subtle, yet deeply moving guitar rings, that ultimately yield to Steven’s synth fade to close out the song. “I’m happy to say that the single was finished and released in time for the Summer Solstice,” Eisler adds. “I’m all about the significant dates in my life!”