SoundDiego’s SDMA Picks

The SoundDiego staff weigh in on the 2015 San Diego Music Awards

Prayers SoundDiego LIVE (20)
Vito Di Stefano

A San Diego Music Awards representative confirmed to SoundDiego at 9:45 a.m. on Monday that the event was moving ahead as planned for later tonight. -- Ed.

With the 2015 San Diego Music Awards, like, literally upon us -- it had us wondering: Who’s going to be taking home hardware this year? So, as we’ve done in the past, we’ve conducted a very informal vote here among our SoundDiego staff and contributors to see whom our team would award the biggest honors to.

It’s always a toss-up: Some of our best predictions, which seem to be sure things, come up inexplicably short in years past. You just never know. But given that some of our staff actually sit on the San Diego Music Foundation’s Academy (including SoundDiego executive producer Eric Page, TV host Daye Salani, and contributors Rosemary Bystrak, Scott McDonald, Tim Pyles and Robin Roth), maybe -- just maybe -- our unofficial votes might be onto something.

As always, we support our own and we’d like to wish the best of luck to our staffers who are nominated this year: associate editor Dustin Lothspeich and his band Diamond Lakes are up for Best Hard Rock Album; blogger J. Smith and his rap duo, Parker and the Numberman, are nominated for Best Hip-Hop; and videographer Eric Casas’ video “Misquote,” which he produced for Hills Like Elephants, is nominated for Best Music Video. Good luck, fellas; hope to see you up at the winner’s podium!

So, without further adieu: We’ve chosen five of the biggest categories, tallied the votes -- and the awards go to …

Best Live Band: The Burning of Rome. This category is always tough, as the Schizophonics and Shady Francos are two of our absolute favorite local acts to see live and up close at a show. But there’s just something magical about the punk/goth/gypsy/experimental, no-holds-barred energy that goes into a Burning of Rome show that we just can’t deny. It’ll be quite the feat if they can win two years in a row.

Best New Artist: Shady Francos/Taurus Authority (tie). It turns out the same number of folks on our staff enjoy Shady Francos’ fiery brand of pogo-stick garage surf rock (which, heads up, you can hear every Saturday night playing the SoundDiego TV theme song) as much as Taurus Authority’s futuristic, groove-based electro-funk vibes. While the Francos bounce around like Bart Simpson in a slingshot store, the vibraphone-helmed Taurus revel in a much chiller space; basically, they’re the yin to each other’s yang and, hey, both deserve it.

Song of the Year: “At Home in the Dark,” 9 Theory. Sure, we were impressed when we talked to Gabe Lehner, the mastermind behind 9 Theory, about his debut album, “Against the Odds of Entropy” – which features Killer Mike (from Run the Jewels), Killah Priest (from Wu-Tang Clan) and Sophie Barker (of Zero 7) – but when we heard the album’s lead single, we were blown away. Its soothing mix of hypnotic atmospherics, Dawn Mitschele’s sultry vocals and Lehner’s penchant for melody and electronic arrangement make for some highly addictive ear candy. Tough category but the right call. Bonus: 9 Theory are playing our free SoundDiego LIVE party at Park & Rec next Friday -- get on the list HERE.)

Album of the Year: “Young Gods” EP, Prayers. This was a landslide. Even though it’s only seven songs deep, this record firmly established Prayers as more than just “cholo-goth pioneers.” Not only have they bested their debut LP, “SD Killwave,” and last year’s “Gothic Summer” EP -- by leaps and bounds -- they have proven they were, indeed, here for the long haul. And, hey, enlisting Travis Barker as the record’s producer (and one of its guest stars) sure didn’t hurt.

Artist of the Year: Prayers. Hard to refute this one: Prayers made their mark on American culture in a huge way this year (like we predicted they would), and their “Young Gods” EP is a perfect accompaniment to the group’s intrigue (as mentioned above). It would be one thing if the mystique surrounding Rafael Reyes and Dave Parley were the only thing propping them up, but it’s hard to argue with their music -- with its machine-gun kick-drum pummel; minimalistic electro melodies; defiant, riot-inciting lyrics (“If you have what I want/I’ll f---in’ take it”); and Reyes’ now-patented yelp. With all due respect to the other nominees, Prayers have to be the 2015 Artist of the Year.

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