Gold Dime
Photo: Lena Shkoda

Gold Dime Make a Torrent of Beautiful Noise on ‘No More Blue Skies’

Gold Dime’s No More Blue Skies can be loud, fast, and urgent but will also disarm you and create a deeply unsettling atmosphere. It’s well worth the wait.

No More Blue Skies
Gold Dime
No Gold
20 October 2023

Andrya Ambro doesn’t mince words – or notes. As the singer, drummer, and principal songwriter behind Gold Dime, her words and music have a propulsive, forward motion in the proper, no-bullshit spirit of punk rock. But as she and her fellow band members prove on No More Blue Skies – as well as previous releases Nerves (2017) and My House (2019) – the textures and arrangements of these songs display a distinct musical curiosity that goes beyond the fundamental structures of punk.

Joined by Ian Douglas-Moore on bass and Brendan Winick on guitar – in addition to a small handful of guests – Ambro approaches No More Blue Skies in her usual manner: in-your-face, with her drums playing a more substantial role in the music than many of her contemporaries. Her drumming is urgent, skillful, and primal, mainly due to her extensive studies of West African percussion (in addition to her classical and jazz training). As a result, the Gold Dime sound is unique and refreshingly deep in its sonic makeup.

No More Blue Skies opens with the beating toms of “Denise”, which usher in a sense of foreboding. Douglas-Moore’s insistent bass line and Winick’s slashing guitars and feedback weave around the drums. Gold Dime’s music has been described on more than one occasion as “cinematic”, and that’s the case here. There’s mystery, horror, and rebellion tucked away in these notes. “No more blue skies,” Ambro sings as a doom-laden observation before Jeff Tobias’ alto sax squeals away in a liberating, genre-defying free jazz/punk mix.  

Ambro infuses plenty of industrial stylings into “Wasted Wanted”, a heavily percussive track featuring some intense, wall-of-noise guitar work from Winick, and lyrics that convey Ambro’s direct approach and complete disdain for surface bullshit: “I want a straight line,” she sings. “Give me a direct sign / I want an in on you with nothing left to spare.” Douglas-Moore’s half-buried spoken word drives home the dark atmosphere: “Next to the window pane / I found you sitting all alone / Quiet all evening / Quiet all day.”

There is a distinct sound to be found in the Gold Dime template, but what makes the music unique and constantly engaging is the ability of the trio to test its limits and explore a variety of sounds while still sounding very much like themselves. “Please Not Today” infuses a dark, almost Latin-tinged vibe, thanks partly to Winick’s sneaky guitar figure. “We Lose Again” begins not with the usual pummeling but with a simmer, as distortion and simple, plodding bass notes creep in, followed by Ambro’s twitching snare drum fills. Gold Dime make full use of the six-minute run time to slowly build the tension, creating something of an epic that never truly provides release in ways you might expect. There’s an almost ambient atmosphere to the track. It should be noted that guest musician Jessica Pavone provides viola and violin on those two tracks, adding to the rich texture of the songs.

Other highlights include the caffeinated, barreling punk/funk of “Beneath Below”, which moves at a breakneck pace, even as the song moves into a more subtle section aided by spacey, sustained, processed vocal harmonies. In “Ronnie Desperation”, the closer, Kate Mohanty’s alto sax squeals and bleats, intertwined with haunting vocal effects and a deep sense of doom and darkness. The song’s lyrics are a sister poem to Mohanty’s “Johnny Panic”, even referencing its inspiration: “a sister poem that mutes its muse”. Ambro steps away from the drums in this dark, disturbing song that comes off as a pitch-black, gothic horror tale. “So ring the buzzer / Up the stairs,” Ambro speaks, “Past the first door / It’s on the left / Ronnie Desperation / He’ll be there.”

No More Blue Skies – a follow-up arriving four years after its predecessor – is a welcome return for fans of Gold Dime, as it includes all of Ambro’s brilliant touchstones. It can be loud and fast, but will also disarm you and create a deeply unsettling atmosphere. Gold Dime are thankfully never boring.

RATING 8 / 10