Some of the Crippled Pilgrims' press has suggested that they were sort of a blend of late-'60s psychedelia and early new wave. Overall, however, this little-known mid-'80s group were more grounded in the sounds of early guitar-oriented post-punk, though their approach was less common when they were founded than it would be in the indie scene later in the 1980s. Forming in Washington, DC, some of the Crippled Pilgrims had connections with the city's punk and alternative bands; bassist Mitch Parker had been in Government Issue, and early drummer Rummager was in the Velvet Monkeys. The founders, however, were singer-guitarist Jay Moglia and lead guitarist Scott Wingo; they never would settle on an official drummer, though Dan Joseph played on most of their recordings.
After getting a song on the various-artists compilation LP Bouncing Babies, the Crippled Pilgrims released a 1984 debut six-song EP, Heads Down Hand Out, on the Fountain of Youth label. Although they did record a full-length album in late 1984, by the time Under Water came out in 1985, the group had broken up, in part because Moglia had moved to New York. In 2004, everything from the Crippled Pilgrims' slim discography -- their EP, LP, and compilation appearance -- was combined onto the CD Down Here: Collected Recordings (1983-1985), which also included a previously unreleased alternate take.