Social Studies perform with Maus Haus, Montra, and 60 Watt Kid at the Rickshaw Stop on Saturday, Aug. 7. 8 p.m., $10; www.rickshawstop.com.
Rock 'n' roll began with insolence and aggression; graduated to sophistication, melancholy, and grandiosity; and then went back again. During these cycles, the phenomenon of twee was born. Instead of confrontational, twee was comforting. Nix on rowdiness — in the twee-light zone, tunefulness was paramount. Twee in the U.K. was the Pastels and Belle and Sebastian; in America, it was Beat Happening and the Softies. This is the lineage of locals Social Studies — but don't get the idea this combo is coasting on the achievements of others. Its compositions show variety in both tempo and mood, usually within the same song. Singer and keyboardist Natalia Rogovin has an expressive, robust, and harmonious voice, and the songs are catchy and imaginatively engaging. Unlike some fellow travelers, Social Studies never confuse excessive cuteness or quirkiness with substance. This lot makes guilt-free feel-good music.