Beginning in 2002, Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter/bandleader Eric James cut his teeth as principal guitarist for the Cool Grand. The short-lived pop group made a respectable stab at regional success, but dissolved by 2003. In the wake of that dissolution, James entered the studio with an armful of his own songs and released a self-titled EP in 2004. The EP was met with favorable reviews and some regional airplay, leading James to MTV, where he contributed a cover of the Velvet Underground's "I Found a Reason" to that network's Lit Riffs soundtrack. Label attention grew throughout 2004 and found James following up his debut with the self-produced (and equally lauded) The C-Sides. 2005 proved to be a breakthrough year for James, as he toured the U.S. extensively and then entered the studio with Sheryl Crow producer John Fields. Those sessions found James in Rundgren/McCartney mode -- playing the instruments himself on nearly all the tracks -- and enlisting the help of a few collaborators, including Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas. With those sessions under his belt, James re-entered the studio in the spring of '06, this time with producers Brad Smith and Christopher Thorn on board, as well as some help from Cake drummer Pete McNeil. Some of the resulting recordings appeared on his MySpace page in late 2005 and plans for another EP in 2006 were announced. James' touring group, Eric James & the New Century hit the road almost immediately and continued to gig extensively throughout the rest of 2006.