For the last two years, I've assembled both my predictions and picks for winners at the San Diego Music Awards. And in that time, I've learned a couple things about the awards. First of all, my favorites actually do end up winning more often than I expect—always a nice surprise. Second, my ability to predict winners is terrible. My all time best is one out of five, which is 20 percent. In other words, I get an F.
But that's alright; I'm not psychic—I'm fine admitting I don't have such powers. Instead of offering my predictions for the winners at the awards, which take place on Monday, October 5 at Humphreys by the Bay, I'm just going to offer my endorsements for many of the categories. So here's who gets my vote at this year's awards.
Best Hard Rock Album: I'm a pretty big metal fan, so the Best Hard Rock Album category is always a great source for what's happening in the state of heavy music in San Diego. It's also the one category that I've predicted a winner in before, so I feel at least a little better in tune with the pulse of the judges. (Full disclosure: I'm one of them.) But I won't go into that now. I'll just say that the album that deserves to win is the devastating and massive new industrial metal monolith from Author & Punisher, Melk En Honing.
Best Hip Hop Album: During this year's Great Demo Review in CityBeat 's local music issue, Ben Salmon lent his ExtraSpecialGood endorsement to ARTiFACTS , by Left in Company, the duo comprising Generik and Aneken. It was hands down one of the strongest recordings in any genre we received this year, and I won't hesitate to say that Left in Company should get the trophy. Their innovative, fiery performance and massive production deserve all the acclaim headed their way.
Left in Company
Best Blues Album: Because there's no “Best R&B” category at the San Diego Music Awards, anything resembling funk, soul, gospel or otherwise pretty much gets lumped into the Best Blues category. It makes sense to a certain point, but it also means that this category ends up being a mish-mash of different styles and sounds, many of which are not actually blues. I'm not a purist, though, and I really think Sure Fire Soul Ensemble deserves an award for their self-titled album. This is the only place it's nominated, so I say hand them the award for their funky, soulful, high-energy debut.
Best Alternative Album: This is genuinely one of the hardest decisions for me, because there are a lot of outstanding bands nominated for Best Alternative Album, and I'd be happy with most of them taking home the award. So here's the deal: I'm giving my endorsement to Wild Wild Wets for their outstanding new psychedelic pop record 14th Floor. It's been on repeat in my headphones for a good portion of the year. But I'd also be perfectly happy to see Hideout, Sledding With Tigers or Weatherbox win.
Best New Artist: It must have been a good year for new bands, because here we have another crowded field of strong candidates. A lot of them are actually new bands by musicians who have already been active in the scene. In fact, almost all of them are. My nod goes to Birdy Bardot, whose debut solo album is maybe my favorite local album this year. But I'd also be happy to see Le Chateau win, because their debut EP is also up there for me.
Best Local Recording: Since I had to pick from a couple favorites on that last category, I'm going to go ahead and say Le Chateau should win Best Local Recording, since it'd be a damn shame if they walked away without a trophy.
Artist of the Year: The Artist of the Year award tends to round up a lot of familiar faces, and this year's no different. Switchfoot, Slightly Stoopid and Steve Poltz have all won more than once. Prayers is a new name, but their relative newness makes me hesitate a little. So because he put in the work, and he's shared stages with giants like The Rolling Stones, I tip my hat to Karl Denson.