The Best and Worst of CMJ ’08, Vol. 1

Originally posted at on October 24, 2008:


When onetime folky Matt Gangi hit Manimal Vinyl’s showcase at the Cake Shop Tuesday with his band, aptly called Gangi, the fluttery shirts, shoestring headband, and acoustic strums I expected were nowhere to be found. Framed by shimmery curtains and Christmas lights, Matt and his mallet-wielding drummer Lyle Nesse occupied the stage with self-assurance and opened each song with a sound sample that segued into pre-recorded dance floor beats, synth, and rhythm guitar to form a backdrop for Gangi’s reedy vocals. At times the band’s sound recalled the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s psych-pop, and at others — particularly during “Animals” — Massachusetts duo the Books. But when Gangi ventured into the crowd, hand raised fervently above his head, comparisons seemed petty next to the charming enthusiasm of a musician putting aside freak folk archetypes and finding his own voice.