The 25th edition of the Boston Music Awards isn’t until Dec. 2, but voting is open on the website until Monday, so there’s ample time left to voice your opinion on the best bands to come out of the region in the past year. As usual, there’s an abundance of talent across a wide spectrum of genres — we really do live in one of the best musical cities in the world. So much so that even the savviest local scenester would have trouble keeping up with all of the music put out this year. With that in mind we’ve put together a cheat sheet of our picks among a few of the major categories for who’s likely to win, and who could likely cause an upset.
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Amanda Palmer; Debo Band; David Wax Museum; Karmin; Mean Creek
Our Pick: Karmin
Dark Horse: Mean Creek
Two holdovers from last year show up again in the big category, Mean Creek and David Wax Museum (the prize ultimately went to Dropkick Murphys, whose jerseys should probably be retired in the BMA rafters). While Amanda Palmer certainly maintained her spot as Boston’s most visible (and controversial) artist, it’s hard to argue with a “Saturday Night Live” appearance, and a No. 16 appearance on the charts, which is where the cutesy pop rap duo Karmin landed with their single “Brokenhearted.” Add to this the duo’s platinum-selling status in a number of countries throughout the world. Our hearts are with the hard-working guitar-heroes of Mean Creek, but the numbers don’t lie.
ALBUM/EP OF THE YEAR
Nominees: “Breakers,” Gem Club; “Love and Dirt,” Session Americana; “Theatre Is Evil,” Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra; “Unsound,” Mission of Burma; “Youth Companion,” Mean Creek
Our Pick: Mean Creek
Dark Horse: Gem Club
Twenty-five Boston Music Awards later, and the album of the year is one that might’ve taken the top honor in any of the previous ceremonies. Mean Creek’s “Youth Companion” evokes memories of the pantheon of Massachusetts’s finest, from the Pixies to Buffalo Tom, with yearning emoting, and a striking balance between abrasive shouting and sweet harmonizing. Bedroom chamber dream-pop duo Gem Club’s debut full-length “Breakers” might be too hushed to stand out, but it’s a work of quiet beauty that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
SONG OF THE YEAR
Nominees: “Brokenhearted,” Karmin; “Call My Name (Tonight),” Young London; “Everyone Is Syncopated,” Streight Angular; “Harder Before It Gets Easier,” David Wax Museum; “Hurry Hurry,” Air Traffic Controller
Our Pick: “Call My Name (Tonight)”, Young London
Dark Horse: “Hurry Hurry,” Air Traffic Controller
“Brokenhearted” may have been the actual international hit, but Young London’s glorious 3½ minutes of unadulterated pop sheen should’ve been; and it still might be, considering the electro-pop duo’s high-profile tour schedule and exponentially growing national presence this year. Air Traffic Controller’s galloping skewed-pop effort is no less hook-laden, and could avail itself well among Boston’s indie set with a surprise upset, as could last year’s new artist nominees Streight Angular, with a harrowingly shouted oddball call to arms.
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Cam Meekins; Dutch ReBelle; Fat Creeps; Gem Club; Yale, Massachusetts
Our Pick: Fat Creeps
Dark Horse: Yale, Massachusetts
“Leave Her Alone,” the best track on Fat Creeps’ debut self-titled EP released earlier this year, was an oversight in the song of the year category, and the strength of that creepy, surf-noir track would be enough for us to tap them in this category, but the rest of the record, including the shattered-glass and shattered-hearts rock of songs like “Fooled” push them over the top. Yale, Massachusetts, another young ’90s-evoking throwback act, conjures the best indie-punk basement show you’ve been to in ages on its “Act Like You’ve Been There” EP.
ELECTRONIC ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Nominees: André Obin; Bearstronaut; Glass Teeth; M|O|D; Stereo Telescope
Our Pick: M|O|D
Dark Horse: Glass Teeth
Three holdovers from last year’s category welcome the frightening synthwaves of producer Glass Teeth, and the electronic hip-hop collective M|O|D to the club. While it’s the five beat-makers of M|O|D whose excursions into the burgeoning world of electronic-trap crossover we expect to have the biggest year (and deservedly so based on their early recorded material) Glass Teeth’s incremental push into the larger EDM conversation shouldn’t be overlooked.
POP/R&B ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Bad Rabbits; Gentlemen Hall; Karmin; Louie Bello; Shea Rose
Our Pick: Bad Rabbits
Dark Horse: Louie Bello
A lineup of heavy hitters, this category might as well be a pick ’em. Gentlemen Hall has maintained its steady, although surprisingly still incomplete climb to stardom, while Shea Rose was our pick for the breakout star from last year’s BMA’s, and Bello has continued to rack up an impressive resume of accolades based on smooth, lover-man joints like this year’s “U the Best.” Bad Rabbits’ continually delayed album produced by new jack pioneer Teddy Riley, as well as another in the waiting, has stymied anxious fans; but it doesn’t get much bigger than Rabbits’ vocalist Fredua Boakye performing live on “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” with Gym Class Heroes. So for that, and always-engaging live parties, we’ll give them the edge.
HIP-HOP ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Nominees: 1982 (Termanology & Statik Selektah); Cam Meekins; Charmingly Ghetto, Dutch Rebelle; Moe Pope and Rain
Our Pick: Moe Pope and Rain
Dark Horse: Dutch Rebelle
Boston is typically viewed as a rock town, but year after year the hip-hop acts in this category stack up well against anywhere else in the country. The frat rap affability of Cam Meekins is hard to resist, while Dutch Rebelle impressed with lyrical versatility and style on her “Married to the Music” LP this year; but Moe Pope and Rain’s just-dropped “Annie Mulz” video, in which the group plays vampires as hungry for blood as they are for microphones, puts them in the prime position to jump ahead of the pack this year with the release of their forthcoming “Let the Right Ones In” record.
FOLK ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck; Caleb Groh, David Wax Museum; Ellis Paul; You Won’t
Our Pick: Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck
Dark Horse: You Won’t
It’s not easy for a folk band to win something called the Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble, but that’s what Bow Thayer and his electrified banjo troubadours did this year. In fairness, they’re more of a rootsy folk-rock act than straight folk, but we’re picking from what we have to work with here. If only more folk were this rousing and spirited to see in a crowded rock club. You Won’t is another act that straddles genre boundaries with its stridently strummed indie zeitgeist torch songs for bookish fans still waiting for that next Neutral Milk Hotel record.
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Our Pick: “Valencia”
Dark Horse: “252”
These two videos couldn’t seem more different on the surface. Obin’s, directed by Theodore Cormey, is a spy-film action piece that hinges on multiple set-changes and a sense of adventure that matches the song’s sense of twitchy paranoia and features a cameo of an army tank, which you don’t see too often. Meanwhile, the Matthew Salton-directed cut for Gem Club is all intimacy and languidly morose scenes of sadness and seizures. (Both, however, hammer home the fact that we’re all desperately alone.) On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mean Creek’s “Young and Wild,” directed by P. Nick Curran, is a testament to the joys of youth. Obin gets the nod here, but only just so, for the difficulty of execution.
Luke O’Neil can be reached at email@example.com