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Flagpole Premieres: McKendrick Bearden, “Continental” Video

McKendrick Bearden. Credit: Ben Hackett.

Many listeners may recognize McKendrick Bearden from his work with Grand Vapids and Heffner, but today he offers a glimpse at his first solo record with the video premiere of “Continental.” 

Bearden began recording the upcoming album himself during the pandemic’s shutdown in 2020. His handmade stop-motion paper scenes in “Continental” colorfully illustrate lyrics that reflect on the importance of remaining present during difficult times. 

“I’ve always struggled with anxiety, but the pandemic truly exasperated it to the point of developing a pretty crippling panic disorder,” says Bearden. “This song specifically deals with how that maroons you on an island, away from those you hold the most dear. It’s a reminder to myself to be present and available even in the throes of panic. Honestly, so much of this record is a reflection of living through that time and grappling with survival.  It was really hard on my partner, and the song is a way of talking through it all and remembering I have to be here.”

After recording the majority of the album at home, the tracks were mixed by Ben Hackett at Chase Park Transduction. Throughout the album, Hackett (New Madrid) makes a guest appearance on clarinet, as do Ryan Engleberger (Reptar) on bass, Jeremy Wheatley (Sailors and Ships) on drums, and Paul Stevens on piano and percussion.

“I’ve always wanted to record a solo record for nothing more than to prove ‘something’ to myself,” says Bearden. “To make a calling card of all the things I think are interesting about music as well as my strengths. Being away from my bands for a year or so seemed like the perfect circumstance to give it a shot.”

Bearden’s upcoming album will be entitled Bright as the Mines Out, a twist on the Southern phrase “dark as the mines out” said before a storm rolls in. Slated for release on Feb. 24, the album looks towards the horizon with hope that something positive can follow—or in this case, be created out of—a dark time.