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CRIPPLED PILGRIMS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Head Down-Hand Out EP (Fountain of Youth) 1984
Under Water (Fountains of Youth) 1985

Most of the music on this Maryland quartet's EP and album is fairly undistinguished folk- and garage-rock — sketchy songs roughly produced on two guitars, bass and drums. Lead singer Jay Moglia seems to be trying to convey something about how people underestimate themselves and settle for less than they're worth, and about the difficulty of honest self-expression. But either he gets too angry and the songs turn into shapeless inchoate rants, or he turns dreamy and blathers on without really saying much. Then, for a few beautiful and perfect moments on Under Water, he gets it right. In "Down Here," "Undone" and "Pretend Not to Care," the guitar chords slip softly by like leaves in a pool, and Moglia's tentative, unsure voice finds its balance of desperation and desire. Rough, sullen and unyielding, with a kick drum pounding like an accelerated heartbeat, "Oblivious and Numb" is his most beautiful and perfect moment of all.

[Karen Schoemer]