In 2001, New York based rockers Dust to Dust released their self-titled debut album. Despite getting on some decent sized tours (opening for Type O Negative and Dave Navarro), response to the album was lukewarm. It didn’t take long before the band was dropped from its label (Sanctuary Records). Soon afterwards, Stu (guitar) and James (keyboards) all quit the band, leaving only Rob Traynor (bass) and Steve Tobin (drums).
Most of us would refer to this as “the band broke up,” but not Traynor! On Dust to Dust’s sophomore album Sick, Traynor plays guitar, bass, and keyboards, while still supplying vocals for the band as well. Traynor’s only accomplices are Steve Tobin behind the drum kit, and guest musician and friend Kenny Hickey (Type O Negative) performing lead guitar duty on some of the songs.
Did I mention that Rob Traynor also released this album on his own, self-funded record label, and recorded it in his own, self-funded studio? Say what you will about Traynor (which I’m about to), just don’t call the man a quitter.
The problem with Dust to Dust isn’t in the band’s performance or album’s production — both of which are excellent. Likewise, you certainly can’t fault Rob Traynor’s desire and persistance. Every thing I’ve been able to get my hands on about this guy’s story reminds me of the movie “Against All Odds.”
Unfortunately, Traynor and company have put out an extremely well produced, well performed, emotionally driven and yet somewhat boring album. It’s another hard rock album where the lead singer sings about things like addiction and abuse and drug dealers and organized religion. The title track is about “feeling helpless against things in the world that are out of your personal control.”
The music is about as innovative as the lyrics. When combined with Traynor’s vocal style, the end result sounds like a cross between nu-metal verses with 80’s hair band choruses. The riffs follow the drums and practically write themselves. I don’t think I heard a riff or a vocal that made me say, “boy, I didn’t see that coming!” Run of the mill hard rock. Only a few songs into the album, you start to get the feeling that you’ve heard this all before. A few songs later, I was sure I had.
I feel it would be a disservice to the band if I didn’t mention how good the production is on the album. Seriously. Long after Traynor and crew give up Dust to Dust, this guy should go into the production business. As a guy who’s dabbled on both sides of the mixing board, I can honestly say this is one of the best self-recorded albums I have ever heard. Ever.
Dust to Dust’s Sick isn’t a bad album, it’s just a bit uninspired. The band’s sound is as impeccable as it is generic, desperately needing some flashier guitar riffs and a slightly more unique signature sound to separate themselves from the pack. Dust to Dust have already proven that they have the determination and perseverance to make it in the business; now they just need a gentle nudge in the originality category to make it to the big time.
03. Think About It
05. Barely Breathing
06. Fix On
07. This Way
12. Blue Sky Line