Saturday, March 5, 2011

We're Still Here...

...and boy are we behind on blogging. Sadly, the winter months are keeping us indoors for the most part and nothing too incredibly exciting has happened. This winter hasn't been too terrible (as far as winters go) but I can't say we won't be glad to see it end...and the sooner the better. In the meantime we'll try to keep the blog a little more up to date. It should be a fun year for the Gillice's. Join us, will you?

And to make this post a little more interesting, here's a great shot of Owen with the cat in a headlock. Isn't he sweet? The cat sure thinks so..

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Best Music of 2010

James here. Happy New Year!!!

I haven't done this for the past couple of years, but in 2007 I made an end of the year best albums list. 2010 was a good year for music so I decided to do the list thing again.

Maybe you care, maybe you don't, but this is what I've been listening to this year. Counting down the top 10...here we go...


10. I Heart California by Admiral Radley
Members of Grandaddy (a favorite band of mine) and Earlimart (who I know by name only) combine forces on this album with wildly mixed results. Not many albums can mix together so many songs that I love with a few that I really don’t care for at all. Despite this inconsistency, the best of these really are great songs. This is certainly not an album I can listen to in it’s entirety but half of it is very, very good.

Standout Tracks:
#2 - "Ghosts of Syllables"
#4 - "Lonesome Co."
#5 - "The Thread
#9 - "GNDN"
#11 - "I Left U Cuz I Luft U"

9. Transference by Spoon
A below standard album from an above standard band. Still, there are enough highlights here to give this one a mention.

Standout Tracks:
#3 - "The Mystery Zone"
#5 - "Written in Reverse"
#8 - "Goodnight Laura"
#10 - "Got Nuffin"

8. Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter
Not as consistent as 2008’s Microcastle, but where this album is good, it is REALLY good. More poppy and accessible than they’ve been in the past. Easily the worst album cover of the year though.

Standout Tracks:
#3 - "Revival"
#5 - "Memory Boy"
#6 - "Desire Lines"
#8 - "Helicopter"

7. Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens
Wow. What can you even say about this album? It is hard to even form words to describe this. It is something that needs to be experienced. With this album Sufjan is more a composer than a songwriter. There is so much going on at any given moment in these songs. So complex and busy and yet incredibly infectious and often quite moving. If there is any flaw to be found it is that this exercise in overload sometimes can almost be a bit too much. All in all an amazing listening experience from an obvious genius.

Standout Tracks:
#1 - "Futile Devices"
#4 - "I Walked"
#5 - "Now That I’m Older"
#8 - "Vesuvius"

6. The Devil to Pay by Brett Shady
The debut album from Brett Shady may not break any new sonic ground, but it doesn’t have to nor was it meant to. Half of it’s charm is the feeling that you’ve heard these songs before somehow...perhaps as a child on the radio during a late night road trip...perhaps in a distant dream of some alternate version of the 1950’s...who knows exactly, but you know you’ve heard them before. The rest of this albums charms can be found in equal parts of simple yet smart and affecting ‘everyman’ lyrics, beautiful sparse country-tinged arrangements, and incredible sing-along pop moments. Not a poor track to be found here, but there are certainly highlights that hopefully are a sign of things to come.

Standout Tracks:
#1 - "Somebody Else"
#2 - "Jerome, AZ"
#6 - "Red House Plea"
#10 - "Angels, Ghosts And Demons"

5. The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
I’ll say this right off the bat...The Suburbs is the weakest album Arcade Fire has released to date. With that said, that still leaves plenty of room for this to be an excellent album, which it is. Of course it’s still early to really be able to say...ask me again in 10 years for a more definitive answer. To be fair, this has only grown on me since I first heard it and I imagine it will continue to do so in years to come. The Suburbs definitely has its highlights and moments of brilliance and yet sometimes it seems like it just barely misses the target or plods along in a boisterous yet unaffecting way. At 16 tracks, it feels at least 2 tracks too long. Don’t get me wrong, this is excellent music...they just set the bar so high with previous releases that it’s hard to see things for what they are until the dust has more time to settle.

Standout Tracks:
#1 - “The Suburbs”
#2 - “Ready To Start”
#9 - “Suburban War”
#15 - "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"

4. Mines by Menomena
I don’t hear this band talked about much and I haven’t seen them mentioned on many end of year lists. I can only scratch my head and wonder if I’m hearing something different than everyone else. To my ears this is one of the most refreshing and brilliant bands to come out in a long while. They are yet to put out a full masterpiece, but they are at the top of the list of bands that I expect great things from. Mines showcases Menomena with their most mature and solid set of songs to date. The songwriting here reaches emotional highs that they had yet to reach previously. They are not all perfect but there is so much here to love. Each track has so much going on while at the same time feeling sparse. The production is brilliant with the drums up front and the piano and sax not far behind and which both, along with jagged guitar stabs, weave in and out of the music in the most creative and often surprising ways. This band sounds like nothing I’ve heard before.

Standout Tracks:
#2 - “TAOS”
#3 - “Killemall”
#8 - “Oh Pretty Boy, You’re Such A Big Boy”
#9 - “Five Little Rooms”
#11 - “Intil”

3. Broken Bells by Broken Bells
Although this album is completely interesting and engaging throughout with not a weak track to be found, I can’t help but be slightly disappointed every time I listen to it. You see, half of this album is a complete masterpiece...the other half is merely great. When I listen I find myself wondering what could have been. Perhaps this super duo of Danger Mouse and James Mercer will eventually create this perfect gem of an album that is hinted at here. Until that time we must be content with mere greatness (with a heavy dose of brilliance).


Standout Tracks:
#1 - “The High Road”
#2 - “Vaporize”
#3 - “Your Head Is On Fire”
#4 - “The Ghost Inside”
#7 - “Citizen”

2. High Violet by The National
In 2007 The National released Boxer...a fine enough album with barely a weak song and several songs that I really enjoyed. And yet there was enough there that I wasn’t completely sold on that I have not returned to that album much over the past 3 years.

By comparison, High Violet never left any such doubts in my mind. From the first listen there was no question it was brilliant, it was just a matter of figuring out exactly HOW brilliant. Listening to this now at the end of the year I am realizing that it only keeps getting better the more time passes.



Standout Tracks:
#2 - “Sorrow”
#3 - “Anyone’s Ghost”
#5 - “Afraid of Everyone”
#10 - “England”

1. Teen Dream by Beach House
The title of this album gives it away, the key word being “dream”. “Teen” or otherwise, this album feels like a complete dream. There is not a single song that is not completely gorgeous...and yet if it has any fault, it’s that they are all so good that on initial listens, nothing really stands out. You keep waiting for it to falter and it never does. There are many songs that came out this year that I would consider better than anything on here, but there is no album that is as solid as this.

My first listen to Teen Dream was on a solitary road trip through the northwest corner of Nevada and into Oregon. It was a route I had never been on and it was amazingly desolate. At one point I think I drove over a hundred miles and only passed a handful of cars going the other direction. The cloud formations that day were otherworldly and that combined with the thrill that comes from seeing a new place for the first time provided the perfect atmosphere for this album. It truly felt like I had wandered into a dream. A Teen Dream apparently.


Standout Tracks:
#1 - “Zebra”
#4 - “Walk In the Park”
#5 - “Used to Be”
#7 - “Better Times”
#8 - “Ten Mile Stereo”


And there you have it. My 10 best of the year.

So what did you listen to this year?

Friday, December 10, 2010

James Finished His 3rd Album! (Finally)

Hey everyone, James here.
If you didn't know already, I have a little side hobby of writing and recording music. My 3rd album, Here Nor There, is finally finished and available as a "pay what you want" download or as a CD pre-order with a minimum cost of 4.99 (or higher if you choose to be generous).

Please go HERE and listen to and download the fruits of my labors.

Friday, October 29, 2010

MENOMENA!!

On the 15th James and I headed up to Salt Lake City to see Menomena. It was phenomenal. Loved every second. It was the best $15 we had spent in a long time and was even worth the 4 hours of sleep we got (we didn't get home until 2:30 in the AM). A VERY special thank you to our friends Matt and Brittany for hanging out with the kiddos for the night. It was a much-needed night out.

These videos don't do any justice to the actual performance, but here they are anyway.




Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We're So Glad When Daddy Comes Home

We love it when Daddy's here to play with us. He does all the stuff that Mommy won't - throwing us in the air, hanging us upside down, and rolling around on the floor. He's also a really great tickler!



Owen has a really hard head. It comes from months and months of hitting it against walls, windows, and other people. It's a good thing it is so hard, or else he wouldn't think this was so much fun:


Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Patch Redux

The air has a bit of a chill in it, the leaves are starting to turn - it's definitely that time of the year again - time for field trips to the Pumpkin Patch! We went a couple weeks ago with our neighborhood preschool group and had a blast. Here are a few of the best shots:


This year we have 8 kids in our preschool. When you combine them with 5 younger siblings, we are quite the force to be reckoned with:

The best of many attempts at a group shot

For fun, check out this shot of Owen last year (click last year).

Love. These. Two

Monday, October 11, 2010

Staring at the Sun (not the only ones)

Though summer took it's sweet time arriving in Utah, it was also in no hurry to leave. As late as last week we were in shorts, t-shirts and, brace yourselves, swimming suits, to squeeze in a little more time with our good friend the sun. We were also joined with our good friends the Larsens, the Nelsons, and the Eldridges (no relation (that we know of)).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Resistance is Futile!

Yet again, we have a 2-year-old. Owen is a handful. He LOVES LOVES LOVES all things Thomas the tank engine so for his birthday we went all Thomas - cake, tablecloth, plates, a take along play set, several trains, pajamas, and a book and talking Thomas toy from friends. And when I say he "loves" Thomas, I really mean he is completely obsessed - he knows all the different trains' names, he loves the shows and asks to watch them all day. Now that he has the trains, he carries them everywhere he goes. From the moment he started taking an interest in Thomas I swore I wouldn't buy in to all the paraphernalia, but I just couldn't resist. I have never seen him so attached to anything. Here are the pictures from the party, with more details at the end for those who care to know.



Owen is awesome. He is still small - 1st percentile for weight! - but sturdy. He goes and goes and goes all day (except for his daily 3-hour nap) and is usually in a great mood. He loves Zoe and the kitty and playing outside. He talks all the time and is a great communicator. We love having him around.

He definitely has me wrapped around his finger and probably gets away with more than he should. But he's my baby. He loves giving hugs, kisses, high-fives, and fist bumps. He's a great eater and would drink his weight in juice every day if I let him. He loves nursery and playing with his friends. He is turning into such a big kid. We love you Owen!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Random Acts of Cuteness

We bought a small vacuum to clean up Owen's after-dinner mess but since it's pink, Zoe claimed it. She loves using it.


Is there anything more precious in the world than this?


Zoe and her friends. We were watching a movie together and when we turned around she had them set up like this. Don't ask.



"Owen, are you excited?" Response:






This girl. There aren't enough words.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Skywalk

Every year we drive up the canyon with our ward members for the annual "Skywalk." It's a 3-mile jaunt with stops for dinner and snacks along the way. Despite the warm weather, the colors have been changing around here and it was gorgeous. Most of the pictures didn't turn out well (I really really really really really really want a new camera) so I'm only posting a couple post-walk shots. Aren't these two the most precious children you've ever seen?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Back to the Grindstone

About a month ago, Zoe had her first days back at preschool. Again this year we are doing a neighborhood joy school two days a week and preschool through the district two days a week. Here are a few shots from before she left for school:

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Three-Park Day

As I said before, Ben and Travis graced us with their presence over Labor Day Weekend and we enjoyed having them with us. That weekend was also Payson's Golden Onion Days so we went to the park for some community fun.

The kids weren't loving Onion Days so we made our way over to Spanish Fork and the new park there. It was freaking awesome! There are tons of swings, a giant play structure, a climbing wall, and a huge fountain for the kids to play in. As per usual, I left the house unprepared for water play, but we improvised.


Next we grabbed lunch at Taco Bell and headed to another park in Spanish Fork (by the library). We found a quiet spot by a huge rose garden to eat and let the kids run around even more.


On Monday we headed back to the Way Awesome and Super Amazing Park (I think that's it's official name) and this time we were prepared for the water. So of course it was a little bit cold. The kids still had a blast but soon decided that they had had enough "playing" in the water (aka running around shivering) and we headed over to the non-water area of the park for some fun with our friends the Namannys. Do three-day weekends get any better than that?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Golden Opportunities

It's that time of the year again - Golden Shoulders made their way across the country and stopped in our little corner of the world. We had a great time hanging out with old friends and listening to awesome music. As an added bonus, the concert served as a great start to our Labor Day Weekend which we spent with Travis Biggs and Ben Counihan. The amount of fun we had was inversely proportionate to the amount of pictures we took.


Here's a little clip of the band playing "I Will Light You On Fire." Seriously amazing song.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Where does the time go?

More to come after I'm finished catching up on the rest of the posts. But for now, Happy Birthday Owen!