Billed as a collaboration but arranged as a split album, The Holland Brothers' Dueling Devils finds identical twins Michael and Mark Holland furthering the strains of blues they've explored—together and separately—for two decades. In the early '90s, they founded Jennyanykind, which evolved from a hazy rock act to a more recognizably retro roots outfit as the millennium—and the band's dissolution—approached.
But neither brother gave up that band's musical trajectory entirely. Michael hewed more closely to tradition, exploring Piedmont blues and string bands. On Dueling Devils' A-side, he offers an unadorned live recording. There's nothing here to augment or interrupt the sound of his fingers skipping along steel strings and the high-lonesome twang of his voice. If not for the modern clarity of the recording, one could imagine the set on a prized 78 rpm record. Mark, meanwhile, has embraced a fuller and more contemporary sound. After Jennyanykind, he launched Jule Brown, fusing blues with alt-rock's taste for whimsy and weirdness. His studio-recorded side of Dueling Devils tilts its slide-guitar smears and swings its vocal inflections toward rock 'n' roll bluster.
Still, the brothers' sonic divergences haven't separated them by much. More than showcasing their different approaches, Dueling Devils highlights the ways Michael and Mark Holland have long complemented one another.
Label: Euramerican Soul