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With apologies to Savage Republic: There’s an undeniable whiff of lethal musk about French Toast, Jerry Busher and James Canty’s guitar-and-drums duo. Although the band’s new The Bugman E.P. is at its most accessible on such songs as “In Veins”—which recalls the way ’80s bands such as Mission of Burma saw unexplored sonic possibilities in guitar rock—ambient, faux-tribal instrumentals such as “Bug vs. Man” and “In Memory” hit harder. That’s not a knock against Canty’s singing voice, which is much better than you’d expect from someone most D.C. fans know as a drummer for Nation of Ulysses, not a frontman. It’s just that the fizzles and rolls of Busher’s percussion could whip a sweaty nightclub crowd into a writhing bacchanal that might be distracted by lyrics like “This is what I had for breakfast.” If naked bacchanals aren’t your scene (and since this is D.C., that’s probably a safe bet), Bugman is pleasingly unfocused. Despite an inner sleeve suggesting that the boys are among the world’s few remaining Sexual Milkshake fans, French Toast excels at taut, precise rock grooves, as in “Where Did You Go,” on which Canty dials back the delay on his guitar, the better to stalk some poor young thing he saw using public transportation. “Come on, tell me!” he yelps. “That was you on the bus, I know!” It’s as compelling as it is vaguely creepy—which, come to think of it, is not a bad way to describe French Toast. The band plays with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18, at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $8. (202) 667-7960. (Andrew Beaujon)