Artist: Jonathan Hape Song: "We Were the Sky"

Over the past four or five years, hard-touring singer-songwriter Jonathan Hape has been a prolific purveyor of songs from indie rock's softer side. I've always liked his work but never loved it, and last year's Herbivore EP did little to budge me from that position. Its pleasant, passable tunes didn't suggest Hape's new Carnivore LP would be a marked step up. But based on my first cursory listen, that's what Carnivore seems to be. The production is fuller, and the songs are more dynamic. Hape's tunes indeed seem to have shifted from a diet of mere vegetation to hearty, protein-packed sustenance.

Lead track "We Were the Sky" announces Hape's renaissance with a swell of grandeur. Acoustic guitars strum with urgency, percussion piles on and a piercing electric guitar slinks around over top. Hape leads a legion of multi-tracked harmonies through a journey that successfully conveys the kind of glory its title implies. It's one of my most pleasant surprises of the year so far.

The entire record is streaming at MySpace. Check it out, then head to Used Kids on May 22 for the Carnivore release show featuring Curtis Cole and Couch Forts.