After five years as a guitarist and songwriter for indie rockers Mount Shasta, Carl Henry Brueggen's solo career began with a bossa nova EP (Cinzano & Cocaine) that would have no trouble passing for a Brazilian export. Brueggen and his nine-piece band appear to have soaked up the lessons taught by the arranging genius Deodato during the mid-'60s, but Brueggen and company aren't just accomplished mimics; they're also fine musicians when given solo space, such as with Greg Suran's lap steel on the title track, or Steve Eisen's flute solo on the second. Nora O'Connor from the New Pornographers contributes wordless vocals on one song, while the two-man percussion team of Alejo Poveda and Javier Gonzales bolsters the lineup. Cinzano & Cocaine is most effective because Brueggen realizes intuitively that Brazilian music should be light and unprepossessing, needing no attempts to expand upon it or conceptualize it.
AllMusic Review by John Bush