Boston-based singer/songwriter Brian Stevens first gained attention as one third of the Cavedogs, a power pop trio that never quite managed to make much of an impression beyond its devoted cult, although it did manage to produce a fine pair of albums, 1990's Joy Rides for Shut-Ins and 1992's Soul Martini. (They weren't helped at all by their initial label, Enigma Records, falling into bankruptcy mere weeks after their debut album's release.) Disillusioned, the Cavedogs split up in 1992.
Stevens immediately started working with a fellow Bostonian, Aimee Mann, playing on her first solo album, 1993's Whatever, and joining her backing band for its tour. When the tour was over, Stevens signed with the fledgling Boston indie Q Division Records (as did the other two former Cavedogs, Mark Rivers with his new group Poundcake and Todd Spahr with the Gravy) and began work on his first solo album. Prettier Than You was released in early 1996, featuring guest appearances by fellow Mann alums Dave Gregory (who had not yet quit XTC) and Jon Brion, as well as local singer/songwriter Merrie Amsterburg. Stevens then went underground for several years, placing only a pair of songs on indie compilations: "A Little Bird Told Me So" on Yellow Pills, Vol. 2 and "Christmas Waltz" on Viva Noel: A Q Division Christmas, and playing a reunion set with the Cavedogs at the 2001 International Pop Overthrow festival in Los Angeles. ~ Stewart Mason