Here are my preferences and predictions for this year's awards:
Best Electronic Nominees: Drew Andrews, Hyena, Illuminauts, Inspired Flight, Jamuel Saxon, Marcelo Radulovich, Porcelain Fangs, White Apple Tree
Who should win: I don't know how Andrews ended up on this list for a second year in a row—I love the guy, but even he has acknowledged that he's not an electronic-music artist. Illuminauts hold it down with experimental beats, Inspired Flight are masters of trip-hop and Hyena sound incredibly catchy. But I'm rooting for Jamuel Saxon—the electro-pop project continues to evolve but it still makes for one hell of a dance party.
Who will win: The Album Leaf's army of fans usually decides this vote, but Album Leaf vet Andrews valiantly asked people to vote for someone else this year. I'll bet Jamuel Saxon will take the prize.
Best New Artist Nominees: Chairs Missing, Cry for Us Black Swans, Low Volts, Sister Speak, Stevie & The Hi-Stax, The Groove Kitties, The Tilt, TV Girl
Who should win: Not to sound patronizing, but I feel like a father who's been asked to pick his favorite child. Chairs Missing is one of the city's best indie-rock bands, Cry for Us Black Swans is one of the city's best singer-songwriters and Low Volts—well, he's just a total badass. But TV Girl really earned this prize—they've gotten national buzz for their infectious track “If You Want It,” and they're living up to the hype with their fun live show and catchy new EP, Benny and The Jetts.
Who will win: TV Girl have this one in the bag.
Best Hip-Hop Nominees: Anti Citizens, Black Mikey, Black Resume, Blame One, Deep Rooted, El Gun Legro, Grammatical B, Vokab Kompany
Who should win: Blame One's latest album, Endurance, was one of my favorite local hip-hop releases of 2010, and up-and-comers Black Resume have been blowing up all over the city. But Black Mikey really deserves recognition: A veteran gangster rapper, he's not only released tons of solid material, but he's also made it his mission to mend rifts in the city's often-Balkanized rap scene.
Who will win: Deep Rooted could win on name alone, but I'm betting on the increasingly popular electro-rap cheeseballs Vokab Kompany.
Album of the Year Nominees: Augustana by Augustana, Sleep Forever by Crocodiles, Chemicals by Dynamite Walls, Homewrecker by Little Hurricane, EasteHymns for western Shores by Switchfoot, Bowith Stripes by The Donkeys, Swan by Unwritten Law, Quit Sleep by Vokab Kompany
Who should win: Chemicals is nothing special, Augustana is really cheesy and Quit Sleep is as stale as an overcooked turkey. Swan is surprisingly rad, Sleep Forever is awesomely skuzzy and Bowith Stripes is wonderfully chill. But I'm rooting for the hard-bitten, haunting blues-rock of Little Hurricane's Homewrecker. (Still, none of the nominees beat out Ale Mania's A, Who Sings That Beat?, a groundbreaking piece of radioactive newwave that's been relegated to the Best Local Recording category.)
Who will win: Quite a few members of the SDMA Academy (which votes on album categories) just love their Switchfoot. But I bet they'll have the good sense to choose Little Hurricane's awesome debut over Switchfoot's b-side EP.
Artist of the Year Nominees: Augustana, Crocodiles, Jason Mraz, Slightly Stoopid, Switchfoot, The Silent Comedy, Transfer, Wavves
Who should win: Crocodiles kick hipster ass, The Silent Comedy kick folkie ass and Wavves kick stoner ass. But Transfer? They kick everyone's ass. After years of doing everything on their own, they've had their big break, touring with Brandon Flowers and signing to Mascot Label Group, a large label based in Europe. Soon enough, I bet they'll be so popular that they'll be up there with Jason Mraz, Slightly Stoopid and Switchfoot, bigfooting lesser-known nominees.
Who will win: This publicly decided category is based on popularity, not merit. So, the award goes to—drum roll—Slightly Stoopid!
The San Diego Music Awards (disclosure: CityBeat's a sponsor and publisher Kevin Hellman pretty much runs the show, blah blah blah) go down at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay on Monday, Aug. 8.