Shawn Lawrence, Sounds Absurd

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As I mentioned last week, a new record shop has opened in downtown Portland. Sounds Absurd is a welcome addition to the Arts District, and I stopped by on opening day (Black Friday) to check out the store and ask owner Shawn Lawrence some questions. Read on for his answers and photos from inside the store…

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Where can people find you and what should they expect to see in the shop?

Absurdities can be found at 55 Oak Street just off Congress next to the MECA dorm, (the store formerly known as Herb’s Gully Burritos.) Sounds sells fine LP’s, 12″s and 45’s of various musical (and non-musical) genres. Several titles still sealed!

Have you worked in or owned record shops before this one?

I’ve run online shops for a good 10 years now (3 at the moment). Worked the greater part of 16 years in 3 NYC area LP shops (Midnight, Footlight and Iris.) The first 2 are no longer with us.

What brought you here to Portland, Maine?

I’m old school. Zoots kid.

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In such a small city, where we already have a couple of great record shops (Enterprise, Strange Maine, Time-Lag, and Bull Moose) all within a few blocks, where do you see your new store fitting in? Do you have your own niche or audience that the others are missing?

I mostly have 80’s New Wave/Punk, a healthy stash of old school funk/soul, 12″s of many genres from the last few decades (house, hip-hop, r-n-b, synth pop, disco, etc..), 45’s (remember those?) and a heap of the ‘other’ category (spoken word, Christmas, children’s records, ‘resort’ releases, 10″s, picture discs, phono booth recordings, etc…)

What’s the best record in your $2 bin right now?

Apparently the Lil Wally Polish Sex LP you bought last week [it’s true!]. Next in line would be The Scooby Doo Christmas Stories LP (with Casey Kasem!)

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You have some cool vintage genre signs hanging around the store – where did they come from?

They are from Footlight Records after the shop closed down. I had about 20 of them until recently.

Do you have any plans to include new releases (on vinyl) in your selection at any point?

A good 15 to 20% of my LP stock is either new reissues or sealed original pressings. I’ll still continue to get new/sealed/reissued titles. I’m connected with a cut out and reissue company of all genres. As far as ‘newer music,’ no. I tend to draw the line when the 1990’s start, (except hip-hop.)

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What would you like for vinyl junkies of Portland to know about you and Sounds Absurd?

I’m cheap and easy! Aside from that most of my LPs are in great condition (I’m picky) unless if it’s an unusual or uncommon title. I gladly take cash/local checks (no cards) and will hold LPs for a few weeks if needed.

Finally, what’s in heavy rotation at the store these days?

Classic Motown (my hometown) is always in heavy rotation here! That and my K-Tel collection I’ve been digging out.

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Sounds Absurd can be found at 55 Oak Street in Downtown Portland, Maine and on Facebook.