Bits: Michael Franti, Polyphonic Spree, Echo & The Bunnymen

Michael Franti preps new album and DVD, the Polyphonic Spree works on a new album and Echo & The Bunnymen plan a brief U.S. tour.

Michael Franti will release a new album and documentary DVD July 25 via Epitaph's Anti- label. The latter is a chronicle of his travels to Baghdad, the West Bank and Gaza Strip titled "I Know I'm Not Alone." Although originally expected to bear the same name, the CD has been dubbed "Yell Fire!"

"I went to Iraq as a listener," Franti told in February of the trip that inspired both projects. "I just got tired of watching the news every night and hearing generals and politicians talking about the economics and the politics of the war, and never explaining the human cost of the war. I just wanted to go there and listen to people."

A mix of reggae, hip-hop and soul, "Yell Fire!" includes appearances by Pink and reggae riddim kings Sly & Robbie and was produced by Franti and Mario Caldato Jr. (Beastie Boys, Jack Johnson) and mixed by Mark Needham (the Killers).

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Polyphonic Spree hopes to release its next effort, "The Fragile Army," in September. The army-sized outfit is being co-produced by the Paper Chase's John Congleton, group leader/founder Tim DeLaughter and his wife Julie Doyle (of the Speekers).

"People can expect the familiar sound of the Spree along with some high energy performance that reflects a bit of our live show," DeLaughter tells

The group, which often sports more than 20 people on stage, is 13-tracks deep into the new effort and is preparing to mix.

The Spree's last set, 2004's "Together We're Heavy," reached No. 1 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart and peaked at No. 121 on The Billboard 200. The disc has sold 67,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

-- Katie Hasty, N.Y.

Echo & The Bunnymen will open a U.S. tour with appearances June 9 at XTRA San Diego's 91X X-Fest in Chula Vista, Calif., and the following day at KITS San Francisco's Live 105 BFD in Mountain View, Calif. From there, the group will head into a three-week theater tour that will close July 1 in New York.

The Ian McCulloch-fronted band is touring in support of last year's "Siberia" (Cooking Vinyl), its fifth release since reuniting in 1997.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.