“Simultaneously a breath of fresh air and a backwards glance to the mid 1980s when peace punk bands incorporated post punk sounds, D.O.V.E. will be a sure fire hit among aging anarchos and younger DIY hippy-punks.

What we might call anarcho-punk, over the pond they call peace punk. Socially conscious, rejecting the capitalist system, striving for freedom, concerned with environmental issues and animal rights. Californians D.O.V.E. are very much in that peace punk tradition. This makes Grow Your Own the perfect home for them, as a label that is doing a great job providing a connection between what is happening now with the essence of 40 years ago. I know some people are going to lose their shit over this record and have been eagerly anticipating its release.

The D.O.V.E. sound is at the more melodic end of the anarcho/peace punk spectrum rather than the harsh angry and shouty approach of Crucifix, Conflict or Icons of Filth. There is more than a hint of post punk (don’t mention the G word) in their sound. There appears to be a resurgence of post punk sounds in the DIY punk scene worldwide currently which probably places D.O.V.E. as “on trend” rather than being an anachronistic throw back.

It is the intricacies of the guitar playing in this record which tends to hold my attention and the songs work through a number of different styles as the album progresses. The intricate and echoey solitary guitar leaves spaces which are filled by the throbbing bass and roving, rolling drums. Those sort of dynamics were a characteristic of many post punk records. Meanwhile, the vocals tend towards floaty and haunting with the odd foray into high pitched yelping. In some ways this matches the lyrical content.

There was a time when music was sold on the artwork and this certainly would have played out well for D.O.V.E. Even with the modern development of people having the opportunity to pre-listen before buying, the artwork will swing some folks and it can still mark a band out from the thousands to choose from. The dot art on the front cover is reminiscent of Wilf’s artwork for The Mob. The combination of a dove and radiation symbol on the front, and the combination of a dove and circled A on the rear give strong hints as to the contents.

DOVE rearThe back sleeve also reworks the style of the border from Antisect’s highly regarded debut album. The intricate hand drawn lyric inner page of the gatefold has somewhat hippy-ish art bends and twists the CRASS font. Is this approach to design pastiche or tribute, or merely sylistic influence? I’ve heard rumblings from the ex-Crass camp of disillusionment with people copying “their style” but when everything has already been done, it is very difficult to be truly original (and some might argue that even Crass themselves were embellishing and recycling ideas from earlier art movements). Perhaps it’s better not to get hung up on the style and focus on the message, eh?

With all this talk of post punk it’s inevitable I was going to name-check Siouxsie and The Banshees, but only in passing. Although there are similarities in the haunting vocal and the varied music, Katharine’s vocals are less baritone than Siouxsie’s. More so I’m hearing similarities to anarchist punk bands who actively embraced melody like Karma Sutra, Political Asylum, Zounds and The Astronauts. For instance, Here Was A Spark sounds to me like the lovechild of Zounds and Decadent Few.

Opening with Anarcho Headcharge, a narrative spoken over a tuneful guitar with rumbling drums and bass gathering pace to build momentum, D.O.V.E. plead with the listener, imploring them not to give up in a world where it can be difficult to see a future worth fighting for. They call for people to look after each other and the planet and fill your mind with positive thoughts.

Fighting capitalism, rejecting the system and striving for peace are certainly themes but a lot of these songs have a more introspective focus – emotional and almost soul searching. The impact of exploitation and conflict is seen in the way it impacts on individuals and D.O.V.E. put political issues through a personal lens. Their offered solution is how we treat each other rather than storming the barricades. Seeking a peaceful existence rather than confronting and smashing the system. In this respect the album has a similar vibe to albums released in 1983 (40 bloody years ago) by The Mob and Omega Tribe, records which used to be virtually glued to my turntable.

Open Your Heart sums up this person centred approach
“Don’t Close Your heart to people you don’t know
They are human just like you
People are people wherever you go
Oppressed by the same powers
Break down the barriers society has built
Don’t let misconceptions keep us apart
Triumph over any so called divisions
Befriend a stranger and open your heart”

The song Societal Life sees the band dipping its toe into dub-punk in the vein of RDF. The guitar is very similar to the style of Phil from PAIN/RDF. There are vocal yelps and warbling of the kind you used to get from Ari Up of The Slits. The overall sparseness draws from the same well as The Astronauts.

D.O.V.E. even channel Hawkwind’s Sonic Attack in the way that You’re Not Alone intones a message over clinks and clanks, space sounds and background screams except D.O.V.E. are not suggesting you “think only of yourself”. The exact opposite!

Peace Crisis signals the end of the album calling for world peace. It starts with acoustic strumming which gradually builds intensity with sweeping reverb guitar and the pounding toms and bass creating a sense of urgency before it fades out.

DOVE innerThis D.O.V.E. album takes me back. In 1985-6, several compilation albums were released by Mortarhate Records (the label of a leading anarcho-punk of the time, Conflict) which reflected what was happening in the “anarcho” scene after Crass had called it a day. We Don’t Want Your Fucking War, We Don’t Want Your Fucking Law and We Won’t Be Your Fucking Poor contained many a gem and whilst some of the songs were very angry punk, there was a definite proliferation of bands with a mournful, melodic post punk influence. A sign of the times as everything was a bit drab and shit. Thatcher’s Britain had seen a strong union movement defeated, the Battle of the Beanfield and growing inequality while nuclear Armageddon loomed. When I listen to D.O.V.E. I am frequently reminded of that era and some of the bands on those compilations.

As I said, I predict some people are going to lose their shit over this record and it will shift fast among anarchos living in the past, ones who’ve kept up to date and younger generations who have caught the peace punk bug. Punks is hippies.”
Words by Nathan Brown (Louder Than War)

Label: Grow Your Own Records