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Sharing a love for bands like Doves, Elbow, and the Cure, Cedars formed in Washington, D.C., in early 2004 under the name Cartel and featured Brian Leatherman (vocals/guitar), Luke Mangels (guitar/keyboard), Francisco Lazzaro (bass), and Ed Barnabas (drums). The Safety in Numbers EP surfaced in September 2004, which included two singles released in the U.K. by Bracken Records. In the fall of 2005, the band changed its name to Cedars. In September 2006 another EP arrived, titled Another Season, and a big break came for Cedars when they opened for Editors in their home city.