My musical education was a haphazard thing — I learned a third of what I know from my dad and his love of The Kinks, a third from my brother and his refusal to be ashamed of having Miley Cyrus, Phish and Tupac on the same iPod and the remaining third from “The O.C.” Though I’d like to think I’ve come a long way from downloading Music From The O.C. Mix 4, it’s always fun to revisit the artists that first got me excited about music. There’s nothing that makes me happier than when a band I loved in high school releases an album that puts them at the top of my playlists once more.

This whole article was prompted by the fact that the first band I fell in love with entirely on my own, The Shins, is back with their first album since 2007. If you are anything like me and Wincing the Night Away was the soundtrack to your high school experience, download Port of Morrow immediately. Though the songs are all new, listen to “Simple Song” and the sound — quirky guitar, danceable rhythm, soaring chorus and James Mercer’s clear and distinct voice — will transport you back in time. To The Shins’ credit, the song isn’t completely  “2007.” The music has taken on a subtly more electronic feel, perhaps due to the more synth-based sound of Broken Bells, Mercer’s side project with Danger Mouse.

But The Shins aren’t the only band to come back with a vengeance in the first months of 2012. Do you remember The Ting Tings? Of course you do … they are the slightly obnoxious and maximally irreverent group that played the songs “Shut Up and Let Me Go” and “That’s Not My Name” at parties in 2009. I may never understand why I like The Ting Tings — their music is essentially chanting — but they’re back, and it’s catchy. “Soul Killing,” one of their most recent tracks off Sounds FromNowheresville, has a big and bouncy chorus propelled by clapping and a surprisingly jazzy piano beat. Katie White’s voice sounds even more like M.I.A.’s than it did in 2008. Plus, what’s not to love about a song that incorporates the squeak of mattress springs into its melody? Nothing? That’s what I thought.

The last artist to come back and awe me anew this year is Andrew Bird. Ever since listening toAndrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs sometime around my freshman year of high school, this singer became the original man with the guitar for me, someone whose music I turned to whenever I was feeling slightly bittersweet and needed a comforting melody. Bird’s new album will probably serve the same role for me in the year to come. “Lusitania,” my favorite song off this year’sBreak It Yourself, is more stripped down than much of Bird’s older music, despite its impressive use of cymbals. The song is leisurely driven forward by buttery-smooth lyrics and the occasional whistle. I was instantly sold.

So there you have it, three new songs by your favorite artists of yore. Or, at least, my favorite artists of yore. Go download all this new music right now! And if you didn’t like them in your yesteryear, so much the better — that only means you have even more new music to discover!

Kinne Chapin is a senior in the College. FACE THE MUSIC appears every other Friday in the guide.

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