The crux of Dakota Suite came together in 1996, when Chris Hooson first met Richard Formby. The two put together demos that were eventually released on the Amos label a label that Formby started with a record store owner in the duo's hometown of Leeds. Subsequent single releases and constant touring garnered Dakota Suite a strong word of mouth buzz in England, and this led to the group signing with Germany's Glitterhouse. Glitterhouse released Songs For A Barbed Wire Fence in 1998 and Dakota Suite was immediately embraced by the British music press, drawing comparisons to other "sadcore" bands such as the Red House Painters and American Music Club. Given that Hooson was still holding down his day job at a hospice in the midst of all this, the "sadcore" tag was especially fitting. Signal Hill came out in 2000 and was picked up by the American indie label Badman Records, which added to the band's rapidly growing collection of fans. A couple of sparse, sad-eyed instrumental albums followed, culminating in the band's third proper release, This River Only Brings Poison. Recorded in San Francisco, This River was made with the help of American Music Club's Tim Mooney and Bruce Kaphan, who contributed drums and guitar, respectively.