San Diego Music Awards season in San Diego is always confusing -- there are so many quality acts constantly pushing our vibrant scene to newer heights that it can be a daunting task to figure out who will win what at this annual awards ceremony (taking place Oct. 6 at Humphrey's By the Bay). While we wish the best of luck to all the nominees, we've highlighted a few that we think are deserving of a little extra recognition. Of course, it's anyone's game -- so feel free to let us know in the comments below who you've picked to take home the gold.
- Album of the Year: The Burning of Rome, “Year of the Ox” - Although the other nominees released stellar albums, few were as wide-reaching and truly epic as that from the genre-smashing warlords the Burning of Rome. Their “Year of the Ox” album made our SoundDiego Record Club and has the band on an impressive upswing. When they’re not on tour with the Dirty Heads or soundtracking the Dallas Cowboys’ touchdown celebrations, they’re winning San Diego Music Awards. This one should be a lock. [Buy it here]
- Best Live Band: The Frights - So, this one’s tough too, but that’s what we do: We make the tough decisions so you don’t have to. Anyone who’s seen the Schitzophonics, the Creepy Creeps or the Silent Comedy knows that all three of those bands bring the ruckus to any given stage on any given night. However, the Frights are so young, so fresh and so consistently energetic -- their frenetic garage-punk sound just translates into absolutely killer shows that rage away on hormones, good ol' fashioned fun and sweat. Wherever they play, we want to be. For this reason, they get our nod.
- Song of the Year: Tribal Seeds, "Blood Clot" (featuring Don Carlos) - One of San Diego's biggest reggae-roots exports, Chula Vista's Tribal Seeds has been everywhere this year with the release of their new studio album, "Representing," this past May. That record's lead single, "Blood Clot," is seriously addictive -- its rastafied groove bouncing from start to finish. Not that the other songs in this category aren't deserving, but this one is undeniably infectious.
- Best Rock Album: The Donkeys, "Ride the Black Wave" - Just when we thought the hometown masters of "chill" couldn't get any cooler, the Donkeys dropped "Ride the Black Wave" on us in June (which, judging by our SoundDiego Record Club review, we couldn't get enough of). Its throwback sound pays homage to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Van Morrison; and the Rolling Stones -- with some spacey experimentalism thrown in the mix for good measure. "Scissor Me Cigs" might be the catchiest thing they've ever laid down on tape. Regardless of the outcome, the Donkeys have made a legit case for taking home the Best Rock Album prize. [Buy it here]
- Best Music Video: Prayers, "Gothic Summer" - It's hard to deny our appreciation for this duo's "SD killwave" style -- our own Dita Quinones profiled them twice earlier this year (read about them here and here). In the video for their EP's title track, they slowly cruise around a cemetery in a hydraulically gifted vintage Chevrolet, while a group of children do their best impression of 1979's classic film "The Warriors" -- albeit with water balloons. The track is absolutely sublime, but the video is one of the most stylized this year, and that's exactly why it should win. [Watch it here]
- Best Alternative Album: Ilya, "In Blood" - While this category is nearly impossible to predict -- with nominees ranging from groups like the Burning of Rome to Little Hurricane -- we're going to go against the grain and pick one of this year's upsets. Ilya, the unlikely underdog in this instance, returned this year from a seven-year hiatus with an incredible album full of dense, melancholic chamber rock. Another SoundDiego Record Club inductee, "In Blood" more than stands out with its slow-building post-rock eruptions and moody, ethereal atmospherics. That's more than enough to warrant a trophy in our books. [Buy it here]
- Artist of the Year: Little Hurricane - Admittedly, this category could go to any of the nominees. However, for our money, Little Hurricane has a good chance to take this one home. The blues-rock duo has been on a serious roll this year with their first national headlining tour in the bag, a new album (“Gold Fever,” which we loved) released to a heap of critical acclaim and a featured spot in a Taco Bell campaign to top it off. Give ‘em the trophy, and then let’s all go grab a chalupa -- on Little Hurricane's lifetime Taco Bell pass of course.