RhinoHere it is! The Monkees‘ first studio album in 20 years, Good Times!, gets released today. The record, which celebrates the band’s 50th anniversary, features new contributions from surviving members Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, and also includes tunes written especially for the project by a variety of respected modern-rock artists.

Nesmith tells ABC Radio that he was pleasantly surprised with Good Times!, while crediting the different songwriters who lent their talents to the record with helping to make it special.

“I thought it came out great, and the songs that people have been writing for it I thought were great,” notes Mike. “[I]t just came together like an ordinary record, but because it was our 50th [anniversary], we knew it was gonna be kind of a touchstone, so everybody had high hopes for it. And then when it came out like it did, it was like, ‘Holy smokes, this actually…sounds good!’ And so, we were thrilled.”

The album includes tunes written by Weezer‘s Rivers Cuomo, OasisNoel Gallagher and The Jam‘s Paul Weller, XTC‘s Andy Partridge and Death Cab for Cutie‘s Ben Gibbard. Nesmith says he especially liked Gibbard’s contribution, “Me and Magdelana,” as well as a track that Weller and Gallagher co-wrote, “Birth of an Accidental Hipster.”

On “Me and Magdelana,” Nesmith trades lead vocals with Dolenz. Mike tells ABC Radio that working with his old band mate on the parts for that song and other tracks was one of the things he enjoyed about making the album.

“It was very easy ’cause we worked together for so long,” he points out, adding that “having the different writers gave us so many more things to say and so many more opportunities at a good time. Hah, no pun intended.”

Sonically, Good Times! certainly shares many elements with The Monkees’ classic 1960s material, including infectious melodies and jangly guitars. But Nesmith feels that the new album is more than a trip down memory lane.

“The thing that I think works so good about the new record is that it really is in the moment,” he insists. “It’s happening right now. These are real people, right now, singing it in this real time.”

The Monkees are on tour now, although, as previously reported, Nesmith isn’t taking part in the trek because he currently is writing a book. Meanwhile, a variety of U.S. record shops are hosting listening parties for Good Times! today. Check out a list of participating stores at Rhino.com.

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