Starting with a definition, “tremolo guitar picking” is the rapid up-and-down movement across the path of a single guitar string. In Rock and Roll, the technique goes much further back than 1976, but if we were to single out a song that raised the appreciation for tremolo picking, it would be Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Yes, the song that Saturday Night Live featured in one of its best known skits – “More Cowbell” (Jimmy Fallon played the drummer, and he struggled with his lines because he laughed through the second half of the skit. If you’re interested, the skit can be viewed at http://vimeo.com/91715361).
In “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” (embedded below), the tremolo guitar picking starts at 3:23, has reduced amplitude as the vocals kick in, but continues until the guitarist breaks it off with a haunting two-second sound that begins at 3:47.
The Cold Start recently released “Sleepwalker.” It starts with a guitar that immediately grabbed our attention. It is not the single-note tremolo guitar picking of the Blue Oyster Cult song. It is a single guitar and the guitarist is likely using rapid up-and-down movement, but there is some processing taking place and it isn’t a sustained single note sound. Regardless of how The Cold Start accomplished the start (guitar “chorus?”), it is a hook, since we were hooked into the song. Nevertheless, hooks tend to be fragile; if the other features of a song don’t add support, a listener’s attention easily escapes. In “Sleepwalker,” the vocals, percussion and other guitar features are sufficiently strong that we would have added the song to our regular playlist, even if the hook were not present.
The Cold Start was previously praised by Indie Obsessive. In fact, their song “Chrysalis” was one of our Top 20 songs of 2014. The members of The Cold Start are Lloyd Williams (vocals, rhythm guitar and keys) Daniel Smith (bass and vocals), Adam Cardy (percussion), and Nicholas Taylor (lead guitar). According to the band’s Facebook page, “The UK natives’ 3 year journey, as companions and bandmates, has taken them from their homeland of England, to the United States. Residing in Los Angeles before journeying across the US, finally finding a home, in Florida.”
“Sleepwalker” by The Cold Start