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"The Pillbugs Monclovia"

The Pillbugs claim to be “the world’s most psychedelic band”, and, judging by the phased cymbals, flanged guitars, sitar solos and vaguely eastern-sounding tunings that jump out at you from Monclovia (not to mention titles such as Charlie Blue Car, King of Zorg and – best of all – 4 Sec Nightmare in a 5 Sec Dream), there’s every chance that they would indeed beat all comers at the World Psychedelia Cup. But – and I hope this isn’t too fine a distinction – what we’re talking about here is early psychedelia, that moment when all these weird sounds were new and novel and fun. The Pillbugs are enjoying themselves, not disappearing into muso dullness. We are in 1966, not 1968. Monclovia has been compiled from the best bits of their first three albums in an attempt to find a wider audience. It deserves one.

Rainbow Quartz RQTZ145

Have your say

I have been listening to the Pillbugs for a little over two years now . In my life I am on an endless quest to find new music to fall in love with . The Pillbugs are it ! I have found no group that I have fallen for as hard since 79 and I fell in love with The Kinks at 15 . This band simply has it all!

Scott , Rockwood, Tennessee

I discovered The Pillbugs for myself more than 6 years ago and immediately fell in love with their neo-retro sound. The harmonies, the hooks, the "real instruments played by real people" and being played extremely well, was music to my ears! I had to track down everything I could by this unknown gem of rock! Now in 2008 the boys are finally getting some well-deserved notice. They've earned it. Discover The Pillbugs for yourself and enjoy the trip to Monclovia!

Steve M., Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

It's fantastic to see the Boys from Toledo getting a glowing review in such a prestigious journal as The Sunday Times! But then, not surprising as we've known it all along (the growing legion of 'Buggians', who infest - for lack of a better word... it does fit the insectile theme though - that little corner of cyberspace known as The Pillbugs Forum ).
There's actually been four releases previous to 'Monclovia', two of which were double cd's no less! Not to mention various solo projects and collections of mastermind Mark Mikel. A man who should be placed on the prolific pedestal of such musicians as Andy Partridge and Robyn Hitchcock, not to mention a couple fellows from Liverpool that you may be familiar with...
I'm hoping that 2008 will be the Year of The Pillbugs. We'll have to share them with the rest of the world, but the rest of the world deserves the same musical nirvana we've experienced daily for the past half decade.


mark kirk, waterloo, canada

Thanks for this review! I have been enjoying the Pillbugs and Mark Mikel's music for some years now. When I first heard their first double cd "The Pillbugs" I was amazed. The songs were superb and the production was second-to-none. Mark Mikel has written hundreds of songs over the years. His first cd being with his band Marikesh "Love Is What You Want", then solo works "Sorghum Pudding", "The Idiot Smiles" and, as Mark Mikel's Hallucination, Blatant Rip-Offs. His recordings as The Pillbugs, with Dan Chalmers, Mark Kelley, Scott Tabner and Dave Murnen gave us "The Pillbugs", "The 3-Dimensional In-Popcycle Dream", "Happy Birthday" and most recently the fantastic "Buzz For Aldrin". He also released a new solo, "Cosmic Surprise", in 2007. Anyone who appreciates well-crafted, expertly-played and written songs, performed with beautiful harmonies, with hooks that leave themselves embedded in your soul forever . . . should buy Monclovia...then get their other will love The Pillbugs!

Bob Tibbitts, Coventry, West Midlands

You comment was spot on; the Pillbugs deserve a wider audience. When you listen to their first three albums, you can see the meliodic threads and themes. I have been in the music industry for 27 years doing CD mastering for independent bands and the Pillbugs is the first (and only) band I can honestly say they are in a class with The Beatles and Brian Wilson. If you are a fan of power pop music, the Pillbugs is a definite must listen.

Bill Andrews, Holly, MI
- The Sunday Times of London

"The Pillbugs Monclovia review in Powerpopaholic"

I've always been aware of the Pillbugs, as a good retro band and in the past I've heard a few songs here and there. Shame on me that I never really gave this band a proper listen. After hearing "Monclovia" I have become an instant raving fanboy. Other than The Oohs, I can think of no other group that melds every pysch-pop influence into each song with the expertise of a gourmet chef. This album is a perfect introduction to the band, by selecting some of the best tracks from previous releases and a few new ones. Similar to Outrageous Cherry or The Resonars, The Pillbugs bring you a pristine psychedelic experience in sound. Only these guys don't just use one set of influences from the era. They use all of them. The opener "Here's to The End of Time" revives Beatles Magical Mystery Tour era pop. Followed by "Faceless Wonder," a mix of classic Moody Blues and The Zombies. Gorgeous hooks are all over each song. The production techniques are absolutely flawless here as well. The Sitar lead "Good To Be Alive" blows away George Harrison's "Within You Without You" from Sgt. Pepper. "All in Good Time" is a perfect single, like The Left Banke meets Brad Jones. The whimsical "Make Like Arthur Lee" even has a touch of Jethro Tull. "Charlie Blue Car" has a rousing Moodies meets Monkees vibe. Then "Hold Me So Near" brings us a gentle Gene Clarke meets Beau Brummels sound. Other influences include, Traffic, Cotton Mather and early Pink Floyd. I could go on forever, as this is the best retro sounding album since XTC's "Dukes of The Stratosphere." If you like any sixites psyche-pop, this is essential listening. -


Mark Mikel - Sorghum Pudding (Omniphonic 15 track CD-1993)
Mark Mikel - The Idiot Smiles (Omniphonic 14 track CD- 1994)
The Pillbugs - S/T (Omniphonic/Proverus 32 track double CD- 1998)
The Pillbugs - The 3-Dimensional In-Popcyle Dream (Proverus 23 track CD-2003)
The Pillbugs - Happy Birthday (Proverus 20 track CD-2004)
The Pillbugs - Buzz For Aldrin (Proverus 24 track double CD- 2007)
Mark Mikel - Cosmic Surprise (self released 12 track CD - 2007)
The Pillbugs - Monclovia (Rainbow Quartz 12 track CD -2007)
The Pillbugs - Everybody Wants A Way Out (Rainbow Quartz 14 track CD -2008)



Though I am now trying to establish a solo career, I've been the main musician/songwriter and producer of The Pillbugs for over 12 years. An internationally known band that has released 6 albums with a decent degree of success.

We've been "Pick of the Week" in USAToday twice recently among our other articles there. We've also received positive reviews and articles in The Sunday Times of London, The Big Takeover, Stange Daze (Japan), Powerpopaholic and numerous online magazines.

I've been writing and recording music for 30 years. Ever since my parents bought me a Teac 4-track reel to reel when I turned 17. I was writing songs before that but they weren't that good. I had a band comprised of my local schoolmates called Marikesh. We released our own LP in 1985 (Love Is What You Want). We were together from 1977 until 1986.

In the late 80s I concentrated on perfecting my recording skills. My home studio set-up was quite elaborate by then. It's basically the same gear I'm using now.

In 1991, I formed a new group (The Mark Mikel Hallucination) and released two solo CDs that received some local acclaim. My song "Out In The Midnight Rain" went to #2 on a major radio station (WIOT FM104) during June of 1993.

In 1997, The Mark Mikel Hallcination changed it's name to The Pillbugs. Our first CD (The Pillbugs-1998) is the only known double CD debut. It contained 32 ultra psychedelic tracks and we proclaimed ourselves "The World's Most Psychedelic Band." That brand has pretty much stuck over the years.

Also in the late-1990s I provided original tracks for ESPN sports shows and was a regular music provider for FOX's Saturday morning kids show "In The Zone."

In the early 2000s, I used the internet to promote and sell The Pillbugs discs. That was exciting because this was a new and extremly vast audience. The first Pillbugs CD sold so well that a local indie Proverus Records decided to release our new discs. We quickly became their best seller.

The Proverus releases helped get the attention of a much better indie label (Rainbow Quartz). RQ released a "best of" disc entitled Monclovia in Oct. '07. It remains one of their best selling discs.

In early '08 we began work on our next CD. During this time our bass player (and dear friend since high school) Mark Kelley passed away from a rare cancer. The almost completed album (Everybody Wants A Way Out) was finished a month later. It is now selling all over the world on The Rainbow Quartz label. The future of the band continuing is a bit uncertain at this time. We hope the new album does well so we receive some good exposure and opportunities.

Lately I perform solo singing and playing my acoustic guitar in my hometown of Toledo, OH.
My influences include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Monkees, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, Queen and The Byrds.
What sets me apart from others? At the risk of sounding immodest, I can write, sing and play many instruments as well as most anyone you'll find. My own (and The Pillbugs') recordings are all analog with absolutely no computer trickery or fixes.