As the leader of the Magik*Magik Orchestra, San Francisco’s Minna Choi has contributed orchestral accompaniments to live performances and albums by countless acclaimed artists over the years. More recently, though, Choi announced a solo project under the Magik*Magik moniker, and unveiled a stunning duet with How To Dress Well. “Laugh a Lot” reveals Choi as not just a gifted composer, arranger, and conductor, but also as an impressive vocalist in her own right.

More broadly, the song’s spare arrangement highlights the power of the unadorned human voice. We’ve done a few mixtapes over the years showcasing music without vocals, including our recent post-punk collection, but haven’t dedicated a mix to highlight some of the great voices possessed by talented local artists. Perhaps it’s too easy to take good voices for granted, or to overlook lesser vocals when a melody or musical performance is particularly strong.

In any event, this mixtape collects 10 talented local musicians and bands that deliver stellar vocal performances. Not stellar in some rigid, objective sense of expansive vocal range or accurate pitch, but in creating real emotional impact. Unsurprisingly, there’s a soulfulness to a lot of the music here, with a number of the artists confronting political and personal subjects with direct and often heart-wrenching lyrics.

Learn more each these local artists in the episode and enjoy the mix below.

Track Listing

DonCat – “Untrue”

Magik*Magik – “Laugh a Lot (feat. How To Dress Well)”

Fantastic Negrito – “Working Poor”

Tabernacle – “Home to Stay”

Con Brio – “Free & Brave”

Emily Jane White – “Frozen Garden”

Doug Hream Blunt – “Gentle Persuasion”

The Seshen – “Distant Heart”

M. Lockwood Porter – “Burn Away”

Scary Little Friends – “In This Lifetime”

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