How would a cowboy cope with a broken heart in Beverly Hills? I imagine he’d feel pretty damn lonely.
That’s not the exact scenario being posited by Juan Wayne in their new single, “Beverly Hills,” but the cosmic country song conjures up a scene of a desolate, downtrodden good ole boy pining away in a place that has passed him by.
The song has all the core elements of what may be called California desert rock — gentle acoustic strumming combined with meteoric injections of chirping electric guitar and a wounded vocal performance. Anyone who enjoys the Beachwood Sparks, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Mazzy Star will have an appreciation for this tattered, lovelorn sound.
The video for the song, which was released last week, has all the images to back up that feeling, with band members Andrew St. James (a prolific San Francisco based artist) and Cesar Maria looking morose in their best cowboy gear, over vaguely L.A.-looking backdrops.
It’s a sad, gorgeous song about coping with heartbreak in the most deliberate, predictable and destructive ways. Maria and St. James — who also plays in the great local power pop group Fast Times — share lead vocals on the track, bleeding their harmonies together seamlessly while cataloging the literal and figurative moment of a relationship moving on: “You look so good walking through Beverly Hills / I took a pill to see if this one would kill / I miss my baby so much.”
It’s pretty familiar, but St. James and Maria imbue it with a specific pathos that makes it all the more tangible. These guys don’t seem like they’re playing cowboys — the song feels like it has roots in real torment.Juan Wayne released their debut album in September — a short, 16-minute selection of seven songs called 1. It’s a great collection of dusty, psychedelic folk tunes, detailing the stories of busted relationships and beatdown people. The boys in Juan Wayne understand that no matter what setting — a crowded, swanky city, or a remote, windswept plain—broken hearts stay broken.