They mean it -- which has always been the problem. Unable to take country seriously, while portraying their mission as a life-and-death struggle for the soul of all music, Bloodshot sometimes forgets that the solution is so much simpler: release good records.
Down to the Promised Land -- 40 bands turning in 40 cuts, some previously available, most new -- is good enough. Alejandro Escovedo joins Jon Langford and his Cosmonauts for a lazy, loving version of Jagger's "Evening Gown"; Anna Fermin sings "Oh, Lonesome Me" with unself-conscious vigor; Rex Hobart masters post-Parsons suggestiveness with "Wicked Savior"; and Neko Case gets gorgeously Freudian on "Favorite": "Last night I dreamt that I hit a deer with my car/Blood from his heart spilled onto my dress and was warm."
As history tells, revolutionary paradise generally becomes hell. The Bloodshooters have always been overly enamored of nose-thumbing novelties, as if they never stopped making vanity records by and for their friends. Check Robbie Fulks' trite faux-swing "Bloodshot's Turning 5" or the overwrought, dry-mouthed horniness of Andre William's' "Glue." Insurgent taste can be as indiscriminate as a drunk with a Luger, as evidenced by Cornell Hurd clod-hopping through "Here Comes My Ball and Chain" and Trailer Bride blatantly ripping off X (then covering their ass with scratchy acetate effects). And the flagship Waco Brothers would have been better served by a live "Baba O'Riley"; the studio version is frigid.
If it's redemption Bloodshot's after, they find it on rangy topography: Bobby Bare Jr.'s metallic fuck-y'all; Ryan Adams' wannabe-and-nearly-is Crenshaw pop; Mike Ireland's spare and just piano hymn; Chris Mills and Deanna Varagonna's "Last to Know" harmonies; and the Sadies and Sally Timms' atmospheric resurrection of the Handsome Family's "Milk and Scissors." Sometimes revolutionaries keep their promises.