Written by Travis Shosa
Hailing from Fallbrook, California, Riley Ponce has been committing barbed-wiry no wave assaults as BADGE GRABBER since July last year. Named for a song from Show Me the Body’s Dog Whistle, the project also draws influence from Big Black and Arab on Radar, with Ponce describing his sound as “ONE MAN ELEKTRO-NOIZE-CORE SHIT.” However it’s labeled, it’s as unhinged as it’s caustic and pummeling. Fusing ramblings of self-mutilation and manslaughter with synths that slice like rusty knives and an acidic guitar tone that could melt flesh off the bone, BADGE GRABBER’s music is nasty business for all the right reasons.
Already an EP and two albums into his young discography, Ponce is set to release his third full-length, FALLOPIAN TUBE AMPLIFIER, in early 2023. The lead single, “A ROOM FULL OF IDIOTS,” boasts a runtime double that of the average BADGE GRABBER track, affording him more opportunity to build suspense when compared with his savage rushes of the past. The premise is simple: Ponce is in a room with people who suck: trapped and pissed about it. Drums steadily kick like a moderately elevated heartbeat, reifying his anxiety. In time, it becomes too much to bear, surging into a brutal beatdown of blast beats and vicious screams. Then it quiets. “I think someone said something that someone else didn’t like / They have a look in their eye / A look that says they wanna kill,” Ponce observes. He desperately pleads that the situation does not turn violent: to no avail. In the end, he writes the outcome off as expected: “I guess this is what goes down in a room full of idiots.”
For more BADGE GRABBER, you can listen to his previous album, HORRIBLE SONGS FOR HORRIBLE PEOPLE:
Travis Shosa is the founder and editor-in-chief of Stamens/Pistils/Parties. Formerly the runner of COUNTERZINE, he has bylines at Pitchfork, The Alternative, and Post-Trash among others.