The son of a pastor, David Bazan wasn't introduced to secular music until his early youth, which helps explain the Christian-influenced songwriting of his band project, Pedro the Lion. Bazan formed the group in 1995, mixing first-person narratives and nuanced indie rock with contributions from a rotating cast of musicians. Based in Seattle, the group released four albums, beginning with 1998's It's Hard to Find a Friend and concluding with 2004's Achilles Heel. Bazan stopped using the name in early 2006, but his musical aspirations continued with several other outfits, as well as a solo career.
Shortly after dropping the Pedro the Lion moniker, Bazan joined Nick Peterson and Starflyer 59's Frank Lenz to form an electronic pop group called Headphones. He also began recording his own solo material, and 2006 saw the release of a solo EP entitled Fewer Moving Parts. The album featured five songs, each one performed twice: first as a fully-arranged song, and later in an acoustic rendition. Bazan even altered the songs' names depending on their arrangements. Named one of the Top 100 Living Songwriters by Paste Magazine, he spent the early portion of 2006 on tour in Europe with the Undertow Orchestra, an outfit featuring fellow songwriters Vic Chesnutt, Will Johnson, and Mark Eitzel. He headed to North America later that summer, supporting his EP's release with a tour alongside Micah P. Hinson.
Three years later, Bazan made his full-length solo debut with the release of Curse Your Branches. Issued on the Barsuk label, the album cracked the Billboard 200 and received warm reviews. He hit the road after its release, recording one of his live performances -- an October 2009 set at the Electrical Audio studio in Chicago -- and releasing it in 2010 as Live at Electrical Audio. The same touring band that appeared on the Electrical Audio album also performed on his second solo album, Strange Negotiations, issued during the early summer of 2011.