Nominees: Drew Andrews, Hyena, Illuminauts, Inspired Flight, Jamuel Saxon, Lesands, Marcelo Radulovich, Revulab
Who should win: The Album Leaf hasn't been nominated this year, possibly because Jimmy LaValle moved to Santa Cruz, which leaves an opening for a title he's won four years in a row. Each of these great acts deserves its nomination, but I'm rooting for Jamuel Saxon. This year, Jamuel mastermind Keith Milgaten came out with Landmines & Chandeliers, an excellent electro-pop record that deftly crosses T-Pain's Auto- Tune with Boards of Canada's experimental vibes—seriously, you have to hear it to believe it.
Who will win: Since the winner will be the one with the most public votes, I'm placing my bet on Drew Andrews, who's got tons of fans and name recognition as an Album Leaf veteran.
Best New Artist
Nominees: D/Wolves, El Monte Slim, Grand Tarantula, Heavy Hawaii, Little Hurricane, Midnight Rivals, The Nervous Wreckords, The Neverout
Who should win: D/Wolves or Grand Tarantula. D/Wolves have the sophistication of a seasoned band, even though they're all younger than 21. Grand Tarantula bring an incredible amount of energy to their jagged pop-rock.
Who will win: Most of the nominees have gotten a good amount of buzz, but the two bands with the most name recognition are Midnight Rivals, a self-described “reluctant supergroup” with members of Lucy's Fur Coat, Louis XIV and Rocket from the Crypt; and The Nervous Wreckords, a trio led by record producer and Louis XIV co-songwriter Brian Karscig. The Nervous Wreckords have more Facebook fans, so I'm betting on them.
Nominees: 12 Gauge Shotie, Addiquit, Black Resume, Deep Rooted, Jimmy Powers, Lil Uno, MC Flow, Vokab Kompany.
Who should win: Once again, the hip-hop nominations have raised controversy—you can read all about it on Page 38. I voted for Mitchy Slick, who wasn't nominated this year but got support from a write-in campaign started by SDRaps.com. A gangsta rapper (and all-around gangsta) who's been repping Southeast San Diego for years, Slick came out this year with Yellow Tape, a record that talks about gang life with as much honesty, brutality and inscrutable slang as an episode of The Wire. Contributions by a stable of local gangsta rappers helps make Yellow Tape quintessentially San Diego.
Who will win: Jimmy Powers, Black Resume and Addiquit all put out solid debuts during the past year, but I don't know if any of them can beat out MC Flow, who's won this thing for three years straight. She hasn't released anything in two years, so she might've lost momentum. Vokab Kompany has a chance, what with their devoted fan base and crossover potential, but I'm betting on Deep Rooted, San Diego's premier hip-hop act.
Album of the Year
Nominees: History From Below by Delta Spirit, I Will Be by Dum Dum Girls, Jason Mraz's Beautiful Mess—Live On Earth by Jason Mraz, Animal Feelings by Rafter, Dreamhouse by Steve Poltz; Hello Hurricane by Switchfoot, The Soft Pack by The Soft Pack, King of the Beach by Wavves
Who should win: Animal Feelings is one of Rafter's best records, I Will Be solidified Dum Dum Girls as a hot up-andcoming band and The Soft Pack's debut simply kicks ass. But I'm rooting for King of the Beach, in which Wavves frontman Nathan Williams teams up with Jay Reatard's rhythm section to deliver Beach Boys-infused pop-punk that's more straightforward than his scrappy solo material but far superior to (and far weirder than) anything blink-182 could ever come up with.
Who will win: It shouldn't be hard passing up Jason Mraz's live album in favor of everybody else's original material, but the SDMA Academy (which decides the winner) will need to make a tough choice this year: All of these albums are solid. In the end, I think they'll see King of the Beach as the boldest of the bunch.
Artist of the Year
Nominees: Crocodiles, Dum Dum Girls, Jason Mraz, Sara Watkins, Slightly Stoopid, Switchfoot, The Soft Pack, Wavves
Who should win: Dum Dum Girls and The Soft Pack won national attention, Sara Watkins broke out as a solo artist and Jason Mraz is still insanely famous, but the big winner is Wavves. Nathan Williams bounced back from his now-infamous onstage meltdown in Barcelona last year with a record that's probably going to end up on a lot of Album of the Year lists.
Who will win: Indie-music geeks will undoubtedly be divided over the respective merits of Dum Dum Girls, The Soft Pack and Wavves, so expect a split vote that leads to a victory for Jason Mraz.
The San Diego Music Awards ceremony goes down at Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay on Sunday, Sept. 12. sandiegomusicawards.com