The wearying practice of cranking out local-band compilations has been left to local labels, often working with a theme (cf. Electric Ornaments, Idol Records' excellent Christmas comp from last year) or with an agenda (promoting their own segment of the "scene" or their own stable of bands). To accuse Summer Break Records of trying to do either with Sunny Teriyaki Hamburger Breakfast would be a disservice to the label and the bands involved. Granted, one of the owners of Summer Break does book bands at the Barley House and Muddy Waters, and, certainly, several bands on Sunny Teriyaki Hamburger Breakfast also have recent or forthcoming releases on Summer Break. But the real point of interest here are the bands--some headliners, some crowd-warmers, some who kissed Dallas goodbye--and their songs, which have managed to do something almost impossible: create a compilation CD that doesn't wear out the "skip" button as you hop past the clunkers to reach the good stuff.
Sunny Teriyaki Hamburger Breakfast starts with The Deathray Davies' deceptively cheerful song "I Hate the Sun," which equates the sun's ability to burn the retinas with the way memories you want to shake are burned into your mind. Though a "sunny" theme comes full circle with the album-closing song "Little Drops of Summer" by L'il Cap'n Travis, this is far from a concept record: Following Dufilho and crew's tirade against the sun and The Happiness Factor's "Need You Badly"--which, depending on your devotion to Brian Wilson, either sounds like a lost track from Pet Sounds or the soundtrack to That Thing You Do--comes The Sparrows' "Freedom of the Press." It starts with a guitar snarl, which only precedes Carter Albrecht's vocal grumble by a few bars. There are some other rowdy moments (Chomsky's head-bobber "Americana" and Prescott Curlywolf's "Mariposa," the most infectious song to rhyme "toilet" with "enjoyed it") and some quiet ones (songs by Jetty Webb and Calvert, which share a few musicians, and "Only a Mountain," Pleasant Grove's previously unreleased crowd favorite, which is worth the sticker price on its own).
Of course, some people only need to hear three words to sell them on this album: the Old 97's. The half-Dallas band contributes "Holy Cross," a 4-year-old leftover from the Too Far to Care sessions that's been floating around Internet mailing lists for years and is no worse for the wear. It's only one of three appearances by Rhett Miller, who also provides vocals with the Ranchero Brothers, his folkie spin-off with Murry Hammond, and during "Stopping Me Is You," a duet with Todd Deatherage, who also offers "Make It Thru."
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Besides showing off a handful of the best bands to haunt Deep Ellum and Lower Greenville, Sunny Teriyaki Hamburger Breakfast also proves just how incestuous Dallas can be. Former DRD member and current L.A. resident Lindsay Romig gives a final taste of Pennywhistle Park backed by a band including Dufilho and a member of Pleasant Grove, whose drummer plays on Fury III's "Pent-Up Brunette." Albrecht also plays on "Alcohol Drip" by Sorta; you'd need a diagram to sort it all out. But listening to Sunny Teriyaki Hamburger Breakfast is a much better way to spend an hour.