ALTERNATIVE

THE XX

Angels (2:53)

Producer: Jamie Smith

Writer: The xx

Publisher: Universal Music Publishing

Young Turks

"Like dreaming of angels/And leaving without them," whisper-sings Romy Madley Croft on the xx's sexy and heartbreaking new single, as if someone asked her the question, "What does your band sound like?" The world's most acclaimed goth-R&B trio still excels at magnifying the minimal: witness Croft's chiming guitar reverb and ethereal croon, Oliver Sim's moaning bass and Jamie Smith's dampened snares. For most bands, "Angels" would be a beautiful interlude - a simmering calm before an eventual explosion - but the xx finds inhuman power in the pauses, wrestling tension out of every note. As far as technique goes, it's nothing new, as the formula here recalls every track on the xx's self-titled 2009 debut. Yet its impact has sharpened in the interim, and on "Angels," so very little actually happens, yet so much is felt. - Ryan Reed

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE

Today's Supernatural (4:19)

Producers: Ben H. Allen III, Animal Collective

Writer: Animal Collective

Publisher: Copyright Control

Domino Records

Leave it to Animal Collective to find the quirkiest way to debut a single. During the first episode of the band's newly launched "Animal Collective Radio" weekly webcast, singer/songwriter Noah Lennox (better-known as Panda Bear) gave listeners their first taste of the group's ninth studio album, "Centipede Hz." To no one's surprise, the song itself - a four-minute, punk-meets-electro banger titled "Today's Supernatural" - is just as unique as the way it was delivered. Although the song was co-produced by Ben H. Allen III, who manned the sessions for 2009's "Merriweather Post Pavilion," "Supernatural" is a far cry from the spacious, beat-driven feel of Animal Collective's last album. Instead, the single is a forceful, delightfully eccentric jam that packs a freewheeling rock energy into an experimental synth-pop package. One area where "Supernatural" figures to follow the group's "Merriweather" material is on the charts: The acclaimed 2009 record was Animal Collective's most commercially successful to date, and if its new single is any indication, "Centipede Hz" could continue that upward trajectory. - Chris Payne

HIP-HOP

RICK ROSS FEATURING DR. DRE & JAY-Z

3 Kings (4:26)

Producers: Jake One,

Dave Wooster, Matt Collis

Writers: various

Publishers: various

Maybach/Slip-N-Slide/ Def Jam/Island Def Jam Music Group

Nope, it's not a musical adaptation of David O. Russell's 1999 Gulf War comedy - "3 Kings" is a new rap summit hosted by the Biggest Boss in the Game. For his "God Forgives, I Don't LP," Rick Ross taps hip-hop's coolest (Jay-Z) and most elusive (Dr. Dre) personas to help him wax poetic about having mighty power over their industry. When the beat drops, Dr. Dre lumbers into view and offers hard-nosed proclamations, while Ross quickly follows to discuss "real niggas' dreams coming to fruition." But, as he does so many things, Jay-Z owns this: tossing off lines about his infant daughter and his multimillion-dollar negotiations with Live Nation like they're common street talk. On "3 Kings," Dre and Ross serve as preludes to the return of the real king, who has been largely absent from the microphone since the birth of Blue Ivy Carter. - Jason Lipshutz