"The album is called Sinking As A Stone, after a Wipers song. But in Hebrew, it's called Hashiamum Shokea. That means The Boredom Sinks In," says Yuval Haring, vocalist and guitarist for the Tel Aviv-based shoegaze trio, Vaadat Charigim.
The Wipers song, found on the seminal Portland punks' 1996 album The Herd, features the lyrics, "She said you are a soul mate/ But you're never gonna settle down/ I wish this craft could swim/ All I ever get is the same old thing/ She said you are a soul mate/ Living as a stowaway/ Sinking as a stone/ Feeling that you've thrown away."
These lines, aside from acting as context for the sound, feeling and direction for Vaadat Charigim's second album—a record filled with menacingly layered indie-pop shoegaze sweeps—also act as an indication of the band's movement and mindset: that of burdened optimism.
Haring, along with drummer Yuval Guttmann and bassist Dan Bloch, formed Vaadat Charigim in 2012. The band name loosely translates to "exceptions committee"—the sort of meeting one attends at school if you want to continue to next year, but lack the proper grades. As an exceptions committee of sorts, the band has made it a point to tackle the bittersweet and the painful in a poignant way, making artistic allowances, but never compromising their voice or mission.
"Our music is loud, slow, nihilistic and, at the same time, very hopeful," Haring says. "Songs are mostly, if not all, from the point of view of a person living in Tel Aviv."
It is the climate of Tel Aviv—one of religious and political turmoil, yet also of change—that has affected the band deeply, personally. "We are influenced by growing up in Israel with hopeless government and cyclical warmongering," Haring says. "[Israel] is a place where almost everything, including art, is very political."
And though Vaadat Charigim's lyrics do often touch on the political, perhaps the lyrics' most noticeable feature is the fact that they are sung entirely in Hebrew. "Hebrew is in the DNA of this band, because it allows us to express local Israeli thinking," Haring says. On top of incorporating home into the very being and expression of the lyrics, the move is a bold challenge to international acts, seemingly saying to never sacrifice personal integrity; let your spirit, the feeling you create with sound, speak for you.
Furthermore, it is a challenge to the American music industry, Haring says. "I hope [Sinking As A Stone] creates room for [more foreign-language] music to flow into the American scene and enrich the narratives of contemporary underground music."
With influences like Yo La Tengo and The Feelies, Vaadat Charigim have gone on to create a simplified yet alluring shoegaze sound. "I see many shoegaze bands with huge effects racks. I use a simple DigiTech delay, a simple DS1 distortion pedal, and an MXR phaser. Nothing more," Haring says. Vaadat Charigim end up sounding like a darker Craft Spells or Wild Nothing—a mostly, if not entirely, pleasing move.
Through Sinking As A Stone, released on the Orange County-based Burger Records, "we hope to create a wider definition of indie-rock that [reaches past] the American drugs/surfing/relationships narrative most music is about," Haring says. Ideals in mind, it is also the personal connections that Haring finds rewarding. "Meeting people that are into what you're doing reaffirms that it's real, and not some make-believe ethos," he says. "When you are performing in front of people and they come up to you later to buy merch or offer a place to sleep, this whole underground rock thing becomes real."
In the future, Haring hopes to go on a more inclusive world tour, possibly hitting Japan somewhere along the way. But in anxious anticipation of their upcoming visit to Utah, Haring says, "Come to the show at Kilby. We look forward to meeting you!"