Cleveland emo quartet Brandtson was originally comprised of singer/guitarist Myk Porter, guitarist Matt Traxler, bassist John Sayre, and singer/drummer Jared Jolley. After appearing on Steadfast Records' Radiowaves and Gibberish various-artists compilation in 1997, the group signed with Deep Elm, contributing to the label samplers Records for the Working Class and A Million Miles Away: Emo Diaries, Vol. 2 before closing out 1998 with their debut full-length, Letterbox. The second Brandtson LP, Fallen Star Collection, followed in 1999 and the band's pop-tinged indie rock continued with Trying to Figure Each Other Out, released a year later. The EP Death and Taxes was issued in January 2002, before the aggressive full-length Dial in Sounds appeared that summer, offering more harmonies and stronger melodies than previous efforts. A split with Camber and Seven Storey Mountain was also released in 2002.