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Clef Hangers

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Castle on the Hill - Single (2017)


November 24, 2017

Ordering Information

Castle on the Hill also streams on Spotify.

Kimberly Raschka Sailor

Here’s the kind of high praise any a cappella group can aim for: take a radio hit of the year that plays across all channels simultaneously and one-up the danged thing. For the Clef Hangers, this was achieved with a huge arrangement and a moody baritone. If you reach for your radio dial when Ed Sheeran comes on, hold on a hot second and hear what the Clef Hangers offer you with their Castle on the Hill. Maybe it won’t become your favorite, but you’ll certainly be impressed with the group’s gusto. 

The story of the day here is all sonic drama: massive build-ups into crescendo explosions. Find your seat belt before the first chorus hits. (I wasn’t properly fastened the first go-around; as of this writing, I am still recovering.) The sweeping soundscape is downright valiant. Is it too much, superfluous in approach? To me, it’s simply a wider extension of the showy source material. I’m on board.

What helps the believability is the thoughtful arrangement that isn’t afraid of cutting dissonance in a pop hit; a tight-knit bass-vp relationship that gives pitch, texture, and hard lines that go higher up the scale than you’d expect to both parts; and exploring both ends of the dynamic spectrum. Yep, this is the kind of song you'll want to hear again and again because there’s so much to appreciate.

Oddly satisfying, right down to its retro artwork, post Castle on the Hill to your playlist today.

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